News12 at 6 o'clock/ April, 1, 2014
AUGUSTA, Ga (WRDW) -- The Georgia Department of Public Health will make the final decision on ambulance calls in Augusta Richmond County. A regional committee voted to recommend Gold Cross EMS for the job.
Former Georgia Governor Roy Barnes is the attorney representing Gold Cross EMS as the company tries to gain control over responding to ambulance calls in Augusta Richmond County. Barnes said he co-sponsored the legislation on zoning in the '70's and it was meant to keep politics out of it.
"There still has to be a contract between the consolidated government and Gold Cross and that's done by commissioners. They have input in there and can demand performance standards and they do," Barnes said.
Some Richmond County officials think a lot differently.
"Hey, we are paying for something that we have no control over and by virtue of doing that we are not serving the people well," said Commissioner Bill Lockett.
Lockett says since Gold Cross won the zone they have to follow state standards and the county can't dictate the maximum or minimum number of ambulances on the road. He said the county also can't set wait times for 911 calls. Lockett believes this could affect the cost of the contract which would ultimately affect taxpayers.
"If Gold Cross has the zone, that ties our hands as to what are they really doing," Lockett said.
"$1.8 million compared to what it would cost a government to pay the employees and cover costs we think is a no-brainer," Barnes said.