City, county reach ambulance service agreement

Published 9:19 am Monday, August 29, 2016

Warren County’s Board of Supervisors Monday morning approved a two-year contract which will continue the county’s ambulance service agreement with the city of Vicksburg.
The contract calls for the county to pay $350 per ambulance run the first year and $400 per run the second year, as well as $280,000 as the county’s share of rescue service costs both years.
The vote was unanimous to approve the contract with the city.
The county began exploring what it would cost to contract with a private ambulance service.
John Smith, county administrator, said the private service would have cost $275,000 per year for three years, but the county would have been responsible for establishing its own rescue services.
“We would be left with the costs of procuring vehicles, equipment and labor to provide rescue service,” Smith said.
Warren County Board of Supervisors President, Richard George, was involved in hammering out the agreement with Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr.
The city will meet today at 2 p.m. to approve the contract, which will clear the way for a resolution setting the interlocal agreement between the city and county.
Supervisor Charles Selmon asked about the language involving what constitutes a billable ambulance run. That had been a point of contention between the city and county.
Smith said that exact language has yet to be worked out. He said the three distinctions include ambulances that are either dispatched, en route and on scene. The language of the current contract, Smith said, calls for the county to pay for ambulances that have been dispatched. However, Smith said some of those “never leave the station.”
He said the county’s position is that it will define a run as an ambulance that is en route.
Smith also said the agreement with the city will include a clause that will allow either party to end the contract with 90 days notice.
The city and county have had an interlocal agreement that allows the city to provide ambulance service to the county since 1967. The board considered going to a private ambulance and developing its own rescue service after city officials wanted to charge $400 per run under a one-year agreement.
The Board of Supervisors looked at two private companies, American Medical Response, or AMR, of Jackson, and Laurel-based ASAP EMS.
The board on Aug. 22 was to have authorized George to sign a contract with ASAP, but tabled the matter to talk with city officials, and planned a special meeting Monday to vote on whether to go to ASAP or renew its agreement with the county.
Another issue involving charges the city had under-billed the county for runs made by the rescue unit into the county remains to be resolved, but Flaggs believes a settlement on those charges can be reached.
City Attorney Nancy Thomas said those rescue unit numbers were still being audited.

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