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Council seeking ambulance service

The Florala News of Florala, Alabama

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The Florala City Council held a special meeting last week to discuss the city's lack of a permanent advanced life support ambulance service in the city.

Since the abrupt closing of Florala EMS the city has been without a permanent ambulance service of any type in the city.

Mayor Robert Williamson said the need for an advanced ambulance service is imperative because Florala no longer has a hospital. He said it was fine for a basic ambulance service to operate within the city when the hospital was here because Florala EMS could have patients to the hospital within a matter of minutes. Since the closure of the hospital Williamson said the needs of the city have changed.

It now takes at least thirty minutes, no matter which hospital the patient is transported to, to get a patient to the hospital and that is if the ambulance is here in town. If there is not an ambulance here in the city then it is almost an hour before the patient arrives at the hospital and sometimes patients don't have that time.

If the city gets an advanced ambulance service then patients can receive life saving drugs and treatment.

The Florala Fire Department has two paramedics on staff but they can only perform basic life support.

The council agreed they would partner with E911 in seeking advanced life support ambulance services to the city. According to Florala City Attorney Wesley Laird the county's E911 board reached out to the city after they learned the city sought bids for advanced life support ambulance services to the city.

Laird echoed the sentiments expressed at the last council meeting when they discussed the problem with obtaining an ALS ambulance service for the city because of the limited number of runs in Florala makes it very difficult for an ALS ambulance service to be based here permanently. Due to the small population and limited runs it is simply not feasible for an ALS ambulance service to base in Florala. Laird said it's a situation that has to be subsidized with some sort of additional support to ensure there is service here when needed.

According to Laird, there are ongoing discussions about an ALS ambulance being placed in the city, with backup provided when that one is on a call. He said the city is being asked to provide a bay, utilities, and $1,000 a month for the 24/7 service.

Opportunity EMS has been providing service to the city but the services was recently suspended by E911 after the ambulance service failed to provide ALS service at a Code 3 call, which is something required by all ambulance services dispatched by the command center.

Laird said the situation with Opportunity EMS is totally out of the city's control. He also said the city's agreement would be with the E911 board for ambulance services and not a particular ambulance service. It could be a different ambulance service on call at various times in the city but the city would have ALS ambulance services, which is what they council wants.

Just because the council contracts with E911 for ALS ambulance service it doesn't prohibit a resident from calling another ambulance service voluntarily and without calling 911, said Laird. E911 only dispatches ambulances to calls received on 911.

Opportunity EMS owner Haywood Nawlin was present at the last council meeting and the special meeting and said he would continue to cover Florala, despite the fact his service has been suspended from 911. However, those wanting to use Opportunity EMS have that option they just have to dial them direct and not 911.

Councilman Marvin Williford asked Laird if the city could receive a portion of the ad valorem tax allocated for emergency services since the city will be paying $1,000 a month for ambulance service. Laird said that was something the city will continue to navigate and discuss. At present the monies are divided 18 ways and each entity gets approximately $36,000 per year.

Laird did say he felt it would be more likely the ambulance service that serves the city would be entitled to the money over the city.



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Original Publication Date: November 4, 2015



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