No ambulance contract decided before new year

News 12 at 11 / Wednesday, December 18, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Commission meetings are over for the year, but soon something else will end, too.

On December 31st, Richmond County's contract with Gold Cross EMS will expire. That means at the beginning of the new year, there will be no contract for ambulance service in Richmond County. Today News 12's Christie Ethridge sat down with Gold Cross CEO Vince Brogdon to find out what that means for the county.

An ambulance siren is a sound you hope you never have to hear -- unless you need it.

"It's a pretty big deal. When you call 911, you expect someone to show up at your door," said Brogdon.

After a full commission meeting yesterday, there was no time to discuss renewing the county's contract with Gold Cross EMS.

"I was surprised because our contract ends December 31st, and there are no more scheduled commission meetings before the end of the year," he said.

After months of negotiations, proposals, and counter proposals, everyone went back to the drawing board Friday to try and find a compromise.

"We worked out back and forth on some of the disagreements we had, and we came up with a resolution that we thought would benefit both sides," Brogdon said.

Commissioner Bill Lockett says Gold Cross missed the deadline to be put on the agenda of the last commission meeting of the year, and without a unanimous vote to override that, there was not going to be any talk about it.

That means come January first, when you call 9-1-1, there's no contractual obligation for these guys to show up.

That left News 12 asking the big question: "Is there a chance the county could be left without an ambulance service?"

Brogdon replied, "We're good loyal partners in the community and we would not do that to the citizens."

Brogdon says he will not abandon the citizens of Richmond County, contract or not.

"We'll still be here if we have to do a month to month basis. Until this is resolved, we'll do that," he said.

Brogdon says the month to month deal will carry on just like their current contract. He assures there won't be any change in service for the community. He hopes they'll get back to renewing the contract at the first commission meeting of the year.

Lockett says in his experience, passing something at the last minute is never a good idea.

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