Commissioners meet with ambulance providers

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 3, 2005

Addressing expectations.

That was the gist of an emergency services pre-bid conference Tuesday morning in Lawrence County Commission chambers.

Representatives of the companies that are interested in submitting a bid to replace Southeast Ohio Emergency Medical Services (SEOEMS) as ambulance service provider to the county were encouraged to attend the meeting and ask commissioners any questions they had on the bid specifications.

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The conference drew more than a half a dozen service providers, including representatives from SEOEMS and representatives from groups as far away as Toledo and Akron.

&#8220We appreciate everyone coming here, your interest,” Lawrence County Commissioner Doug Malone told the assembly.

Malone said he was expecting a half a dozen businesses to express an interest, but he was surprised by the interest from the Toledo and Akron groups.

It has been more than 30 years since Lawrence County Commissioners began its relationship with SEOEMS. Many in the room seemed to question the commissioners' decision to explore new options.

&#8220So you want to duplicate, maintain the level of coverage you now have?” asked Shane Wheeler, chief of field operations for West-Virginia based Jan Care Ambulance.

&#8220Absolutely,” Lawrence County Commissioner George Patterson said. &#8220It should be equal to or better.”

&#8220Do you expect us to duplicate the management philosophy of SEOEMS?” Wheeler asked.

&#8220No, you would run your own ship,” Malone said.

Running their own ship is something all of the outfits do, although some of the ships have slightly different courses than the one the county is on now. Some of the service providers have experience with emergency calls - car accidents and other life threatening medical emergencies. Others do not, but are eager to try.

Wheeler said the West Virginia-based Jan Care provided both non-emergency and emergency services.

&#8220We feel confident we can provide Lawrence County with superb ambulance care,” Wheeler said.

&#8220It would be an excellent opportunity for anyone who gets it (the contract),” David Rotter, chief operations officer of Patriot Emergency Medical Service, said.

&#8220We're here to observe more than anything.”

Doug Avery, senior vice president of operations for the Portsmouth-based Life Emergency Medical Services, said that outfit provided both non-emergency and emergency care to nine counties in Ohio.

&#8220Our operations are tailored to the needs of the community,” he said.

Many of the questions asked Tuesday centered on coverage.

Tony Anteau, vice-president of operations for the Toledo-based MedCorp, recited the section of the bid that requires the service provider to respond to calls in urban areas within 5 minutes and rural areas within 20 minutes. He asked what commissioners considered &#8220urban” and &#8220rural.”

Patterson replied that the county's one city and several small villages were considered &#8220urban.” The remainder of the county was considered &#8220rural.”

Other questions concerned expectations.

&#8220SEOEMS provides a medical director to some fire departments for their first responder program,” Wheeler asked. &#8220So how will this work with someone else?”

Lawrence County 911/ Emergency Management Agency Director Don Mootz said the first responder program is a SEOEMS program, not a county program.

&#8220This is a vast amount of information,” Daniel Csaky, director of Ohio operations for American Medical Response, of Akron, said during the roughly one-hour meeting. &#8220Is there an option to extend the bid opening?”

Patterson said the commissioners might extend the bid opening past the 10 a.m. Monday deadline but that decision would have to be made at its regular Thursday meeting.