Renewal of ambulance contract discussed

Published 5:41 pm Thursday, April 6, 2023

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By JOYANNA LOVE | Managing Editor

Renewing the contract between Chilton County 911 and Regional Paramedic Service was discussed during a work session on April 6.

The plan is to renew the current contract at the April 12 voting session.

The contract officially expired in January, but RPS has continued serving the county.

Assistant 911 director Kelly Smitherman said RPS is fine with renewing the contract as it is.

Fairview Fire Chief Joe Cole said there needs to be clarification on how the RPS priority dispatch center defines emergency medic calls and calculating average response times. He said these have been points of “mass confusion” for the oversight committee that determines if RPS will be fined for not responding within the time required in the contract. 911 board committee member Butch Billingsley said RPS is including their response times in Clanton, even though Clanton has a separate agreement with the company. Clanton Police Chief Erick Smitherman said RPS has required that they be able to use Clanton responses in the average.

It was discussed that any changes would need to be discussed with RPS and would delay a vote.

“We are not changing the agreement,” Cole said. “We are just clarifying what we are agreeing to.”

Jemison Councilmember Rex Bittle, who serves as a 911 board member, suggested that the board go ahead and renew the current contract for a year and work out any change that might be made during that time for the next one.

The board attorney pointed out that the current contract has zero leverage for RPS to want to continue serving the county.

Later, the discussion turned to the lack of response from volunteer fire departments.  Chairman Jimmie Hardee said the county needed to have paid fire departments to insure there will be emergency response. Establishing a committee to look into this was discussed.

Hiring an attorney with more government law experience was also discussed. Hardee said the current attorney has been serving on a volunteer basis for five years. He said a salary for an attorney needs to be set.

Establishing a budget hearing process was also discussed as a future goal.

A topic mentioned for future discussion was relocating the 911 Center in the new courthouse when it is built. Property has been secured for a new courthouse on Highway 145, but there is not a timeline for construction.