New Augusta ambulance contract deemed unsafe by some

By: Ryan Houston Email
By: Ryan Houston Email

News 12 First at Five / Wednesday, July 31, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Augusta leaders are just finishing up negotiations on a new ambulance contract. It could be back to the drawing board if some have their way.

"We're going to be waiting an extended period of time for an ambulance. There will be none available," said Augusta Professional Firefighters Association President Charles Masters.

"To say six ambulances are not enough is like looking in a crystal ball and knowing what will happen in the future," said City Administrator Fred Russell.

The problems for Masters and at least one commissioner center around the trucks. The old contract had no minimum number Gold Cross had to supply. The new one will have 10 ambulances on call from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Click here to read the key terms for the renegotiated Gold Cross contract (PDF).

Gold Cross EMS will have six during overnight hours. The contract says at least 60 percent of those will be equipped with Advanced Life Support.

"Will it keep Augusta safe? No. You got the fox writing the contract for the hens," Masters said.

"It's better than the current deal when we had no number at all. You've got to look at the odds, even if you're dealing with people's lives," Russell said.

Emergency officials in Columbia County say they have five ambulances 24 hours a day with an extra one available during the busiest time of day. All of their ambulances are Advanced Life Support ready.

"I got to reach out to City Administrator Fred Russell since he's over the contract. I would hope changes are coming," said Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle.

"What happens when the six run out? They will run out after 8 p.m.," Masters said.

It will take six votes to give Gold Cross the three-year contract. Some emergency responders are hoping it will be enough to keep everyone in the county safe.

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