Augusta leaders unanimously OK stopgap ambulance deal
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Augusta Commission members on Tuesday approved a month-to-month contract for ambulance service from Gold Cross Emergency Medical Services.
The new contract takes effect Wednesday morning. A previous memorandum of understanding was used as the basis for the contract, which calls for eight ambulances and a 30-day notice for termination.
Officials say the contract, which the Augusta Commission approved unanimously, will cost $250,000 the first month and then $150,000 after that.
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Gold Cross, which has been the ambulance provider for years, surrendered the Augusta emergency medical services zone after city leaders refused to approve a longer-term contract calling for millions in subsidies for the company. Gold Cross said it needed the subsidies due to rising costs and the number of people in Augusta who don’t pay for service.
Augusta can’t go without ambulance service, so the state will appoint a new provider. The month-to-month deal with Gold Cross will ensure the city still has ambulance service until the state-appointed provider takes over.
Mayor Garnett Johnson wants the city to control the EMS zone so Augusta officials can hold the provider accountable. A special meeting is expected Feb. 9 with the Georgia Department of Public Health on getting the zone back.
Meanwhile, the Augusta Fire Department could come into play in future emergency medical services.
Fire Chief Antonio Burden sketched out for commission members on Tuesday a role for so-called quick-response vehicles.
Burden said the Augusta Fire Department responded to over 26,000 calls last year, 63% of which were medical-related. He said his agency can typically respond to the scene of medical emergencies faster than Gold Cross.
He said if his agency gets these vehicles – which are a national trend – they’d be a good solution of relief for firetrucks.
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