By Sheila Duncan

Chairman Turner and Commissioner Long heard from the current ambulance service provider, ASAP, who informed the commission that they were unable to meet the needs of the community as contracted due to a lack of manpower and funding. In response, Chairman Turner informed the company that the current contract had ended and that the commission would be putting out a new Request for Proposal (RFP) for contracted services, as well as beginning the process of establishing a County-owned ambulance service. The Chairman also informed the public in attendance that ASAP would be formally notifying the State of their intention to change providers on May 29th, and that by June 28th a new contract provider would be in place, or a County-owned service would be up and running.

Chairman Turner began calling state and federal officials to seek funding for purchasing new ambulance units, should the Commission decide to go that route. He estimated that in a few days’ time, the County will know where it stands financially with regards to the ambulance business.

Chairman Turner announced that the County will be working diligently to ensure that the residents of Marion and Uniontown have access to an ALS level of emergency medical service by June 27th. To accomplish this, the County will be placing a notice of the RFP in local newspapers, as well as sending a direct invitation to known companies. Furthermore, Chairman Turner did not rule out the possibility of hiring a professional management company to bill and run the day-to-day operations of a County-owned service. The County will continue to work with ASAP until June 27th to provide ALS level medical service to the residents of Marion and Uniontown. After June 27th, the County will assess the RFPs received and will make a decision on the best way to provide medical service going forward. The County is committed to ensuring that the residents of Marion and Uniontown receive the highest level of medical service available.

The Chairman revealed his plans to meet with Dr. Ben Lee, Chairman of the Perry County Healthcare Authority, in order to discuss the possibility of a management company running a county owned ambulance service. He emphasized the need for collaboration between all stakeholders, including the cities, school board, healthcare authority, Marion Military Institute, and local industries. Furthermore, he suggested that the Arrowhead Landfill and the Healthcare Authority could provide two new ambulances in the coming weeks, and that the Alabama Tombigbee Regional Commission could provide additional funding in about a month’s time. Finally, the Chairman suggested that the County could also utilize its reserve funds to purchase a third truck for backup. The Chairman said he is reluctant to take this on with the County managing the operations from the Commission Chamber. He said that the County doesn’t have the software system, personnel nor the knowledge to effectively operate an ambulance service. However, with a Board and a management company he feels better about going into the business.

Commissioner Long suggested a special call meeting to be set to move forward the issue of ambulance service. He expressed his opinion that there is no greater issue before the County than this ambulance service issue, and he urged the Chairman to act quickly. Currently, the County pays a total of $345,000.00 for the ambulance service, which is broken down into the following: County General Fund and Perry County Healthcare Authority ($315,000.00), City of Marion ($12,500.00), City of Uniontown ($12,500.00), and Perry County Board of Education ($5,000.00).

(Source: Albert Turner social media)