County and city officials will have three ambulance service proposals to consider by the end of this month, with the new contract set to begin April 1.
In the past, ambulance contracts have generally been four years in length, though it is unclear how long a period a new agreement with cover.
In the most recent contract with MedStat, the county has paid the company a $36,000 per year subsidy, with the city paying a $30,000 annual subsidy.
During a supervisors’ work session last Friday — which was also attended by Kosciusko Mayor Jimmy Cockroft, two aldermen and representatives of Baptist Memorial Hospital-Attala — the three companies vying for the contract told officials what they have to offer.
Dr. Michael Seymour and Greg Pafford with Pafford Ambulance Service, said their company would provide two ambulances for the subsidies currently being paid to contract-holder MedStat.
“The big issue is backup becasue you probably can’t afford a big enough subsidy for the third,” said Seymour. But it is possible a third could be added if there were enough transports from the hospital to other locations — such as Jackson hospitals — to cover the costs.
Company representatives said that their local ownership means reapid response to issues that may arise and that the brand new ambulances they would provide exceed all state requirements.
The noted that the biggest problem currently facing Attala county is “wall times,” meaning the time an ambulance is away from the community on patient transport trips when they have to stay with the patient for an extended period of time, preventing the abulance from returing to local service in a timely manner.
“This is not our first rodeo running rural EMS. I think we can fix the problem,” he said.
David Eldridge with MedStat touted the company’s service to Attala County since 2006, and their ability to access more local additional resources for major emergencies that may arise since they also serve a large number of adjacent counties. MedStat currently has two ambulances stationed in Attala County with a total of 19 in the area.
“We have very aggressive treatment protocols and we provide some of the best medical care in the state,” he said, noting that the company is active in the community apart from providing their services.
“We enjoy working for this community. We were asked to come here then (in 2006) and we’re asking to stay here now,” Eldridge said. “They (MedStat employees) want to be part of this community. This is home for a lot of us.”
Eldrige noted that MedStat is an active participant in community events and provides local educational services, icnlduign participation in disaster recovery planning.
Upon questionning, Eldridge said MedStat would be willing to add a 12-hour ambulance to the two already serving Attala County going forward, at no increase in the coutny and city subsidies it receives.
“We’re willing to do whatever you need. We can put a 12-hour truck here and see what happens. I’ll do whatever you ask,” he told officials.
The possible addition of a third ambulance, manned 12 hours per day, was an offer the company later put in writing when it delivered its formal proposal to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday morning.
Eric Messer and Greg Schowen with Priority made what appeared to be the least-expensive proposal while offering the largest number of ambulances. The company is affiliated with the Baptist hospitals.
Showen, who discussed the proposal via speakerphone said the company would provide the county with three 24-hour ambulances and one backup ambulance at no cost to either the city or county, saving them $30,000 and $36,000 annually, respectively.
“You will not pay a dime for our services,” he said. “It will take time, buyt we will build trust with this community.”
The expectation, they indicated, is that they would make enough on non-emergency transports to cover the costs. If an ambulance is on “wall time” with a patient outside the county, the area supervisor will take the backup ambulance to that location to stay with the patient, allowing the regular ambulance to return to local service more quickly.
The company, he said, would intend to absorb the employees of the current provider. Based on Priority’s pay scale and benefits, he said, most would receive raises and have their benefits costs reduced in the process.
In disaster situations, they said the company would pull additional resources from their other sites in the area, like Columbus and Calhoun City. They do not have resources in adjacent counties at this time.
Schowen said the company would also provide free CPR classes, school safety programs and stand-by services for community events at no charge.
“We’re not going to come in and take your patients and you never hear from us,” he said. “We feel we can give you the service you’ve been asking for.”
Formal proposals are due to be submitted via the Chancery Clerk’s office by Friday, February 28, but county and city officials have yet to set a deadline by which they will make a decision.