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Council postpones ambulance discussion

By Chris Paschenko
chris@decaturdaily.com 340-2442

The process of switching ambulance companies in Decatur hit another snag Monday when the City Council postponed discussion of the new contract indefinitely.

The city's Emergency Medical Services Committee in a Thursday meeting voted to support the new contract and ambulance-company switch.

City Council President Billy Jackson said he postponed the work session the following day at the request of the city's legal department.

City Attorney Herman Marks said more information was needed.

"I asked for it to be postponed to gather some more information," Marks said. "It's not quite ready to bring forth to have the meeting."

Marks declined to comment further on what information
he sought and said he couldn't predict when he would recommend the council discuss the matter.

"We're moving forward," Marks said. "The analysis is taking a little longer to gather all the information. We'll report as soon as we can."

A seven-member panel of the city's Emergency Medical Services Committee recommended in November that Decatur approve the new ambulance contract and hire Care Ambulance Service to become the city's sole provider.

The panel also ranked the current provider, Decatur Emer-gency Medical Services Inc., last among six competing companies.

Removing the current pro-vider from service under the current contract was a matter of contention during Thursday's EMS Committee meeting.

Barney Lovelace, attorney for the current provider, addressed the committee and said there is a conflict between the two contracts, the present certificate of public need and the new request for proposal.

"The city cannot, in my legal opinion, award a contract to an ambulance service for an exclusive franchise for ambulance service in Decatur without violating the rights of Decatur EMS under the certificate of public need it presently holds," Lovelace said.

Lovelace's client was in business in Decatur before the council adopted the present certificate-of-public-need and is exempt from obtaining one. The company has, however, operated under the contract guidelines.

"I have been discussing this with officials since early January," Lovelace said. "And have not received any definitive response or resolution by the city, so I felt that the only alternative was to raise the issue at EMS Committee meeting last Thursday."

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