Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Lauderdale Ambulance Wars--Today!

From Hank Thomas:

Shoals Ambulance
The County Commission under the leadership of Dewey Mitchell, Chairman, has decided to rebid the Ambulance contract for Lauderdale County. Mr. Mitchell stated that the city of Florence representative advised him orally that the city wished to rebid the contract. Mr. Mitchell indicated there is no formal written notification to him or the commission from the city regarding the Ambulance bid. Based on this oral notification the commission decided to allow a rebid of the ambulance contract.

The present ambulance contract is for 3 years and allows for a rebid each year in September without cause. The present Vendor has had a contract with the city and county for 4 years of 2, 3 year contracts without having to rebid in any year. The EMA Director stated that in the 4 years of the contracts the vendor has had only one complaint and the complaint was resolved to the satisfaction of all parties to the contract.

Mr. Mitchell advised the other reason for a rebid of the existing contract was to see if there is possibly an improved contract with a rebid, which he hoped would benefit the citizens of Lauderdale County. Mr. Mitchell was asked what would occur if in fact the bids came back higher and costs the citizens of Lauderdale County more money for the ambulance service. No response has been forthcoming on that question from the Chairman. Two of the commissioners Fay Parker and Rhea Fulmer questioned the need for the rebid and were advised by Mr. Mitchell that with the city wishing to precede with a rebid the city had forced the hand of the county, since the contract was a joint venture of both governments. No vote was taken on this matter and according to Mr. Mitchell a vote was not required to move forward with the rebid. This information was discussed in a work session of the county commission.

The bids were then prepared and were sent to any interested party that met the requirements of the written bid package. The bids were closed on August 2, 2012 and 2 ambulance companies submitted a bid. Both services gave a business address in Colbert County. After the bids were closed and nothing could be changed I requested to see the bids. I was advised that I could not see the bids until after they had been voted on. This did not appear to follow the rules of the Freedom of Information Act and I then contacted the Attorney General’s office in Montgomery and found I was correct and should be allowed to view the bids. I wrote a request with the information from the AG to the county commission and I was then allowed to view the bids.

After reviewing the bids I, found, in my opinion, that all but one of the sections and requirements of the contract were met by both ambulance services. The only exception was in the various charges that each ambulance service proposed in the bid. Below are the bid prices each service submitted.

Service                             Lauderdale EMS           Shoals Ambulance

ALS Non-emergency             $290.00                                 $490.00

ALS Emergency                     $450.00                                 $595.00

BLS Non-emergency              $240.00                                 $400.00

BLS Emergency                      $320.12                                 $425.00

Your commissioners will be discussing the ambulance bids in the next work session which is on September 4th. This is an important decision as it affects all citizens in the city of Florence and the county of Lauderdale. Please contact your commissioner with your thoughts on this matter.


Apologies to Mr. Thomas and our readers for not publishing this earlier. The work session is today, but you can still contact your commissioner during the next two weeks. It's not a given that the bid will be awarded at the next regular meeting, especially since this will be a joint city-county effort, but the earlier you provide your input, the better for your voice to be heard.


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