A progress report on Augusta’s new ambulance provider

Published: Nov. 17, 2023 at 3:49 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - It’s been seven months since a new ambulance service has been responding to emergencies in Augusta.

It’s not just your life on the line, but also your tax dollars at work.

Central EMS landed the job and the support of the city by quickly responding to calls during the first two weeks on the job.

Central EMS started out with a trial by fire with a sudden move-in date to start offering ambulance service in Richmond County.

That happened when Gold Cross EMS pulled out at an accelerated rate after city leaders decided not to renew a contract with the company.

Despite Central’s obstacles as the new ambulance provider, it remained optimistic.

Since then, a cyberattack on the city slowed things down and a Georgia Department of Public Health investigation was launched into whether Central’s ambulances were up to code.

But is that everything that’s happened?

Using public documents, we looked into Central’s record in the past few months.

We learned:

  • There have been six formal complaints on response times (with more insinuated in two other emails).
  • Two employee investigations were launched
  • The cyberattack hit Central’s response times tracker all the way into August, with the EMS provider not being able to track response times.
  • And there was one back-and-forth complaint on Central EMS practices on a spinal cord operation.

Audio from one of the 911 calls was attached to its complaint:

Operator: “911, do you need police, fire, or an ambulance?”

Caller: “Ambulance.”

Operator: “Have you already called?”

Caller: “Um, no.”

Operator: “Ok. One moment, ok?”

Caller: “Ok.”

Operator: “I’m sorry we have a high call volume.”

Caller: “Ok.”

And towards the end of the call, Caller: “Tripprin bro. I should’ve just drove my car.”

Operator: “Alright, so we have a high call volume right now, but we’re going to be out there as soon as possible. Call as soon as anything changes, ok?”

Caller: “Ok.”

One email from August says the time it takes for ambulances to respond can’t be recorded. The reason cited is from the fallout still lingering from Augusta’s cyber attack in May.

Another email from Augusta’s E-911 center director says slowdowns have popped up “running like Gold Cross,” referring to the former ambulance service which faced criticism for not responding to emergencies quickly enough.

The 165 pages of public documents offer a mile marker on how Central is doing.