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FRIDAY, JULY 27, 2007

Decatur EMS to attend council's ambulance meeting

By Evan Belanger 340-2442

Representatives with an embattled ambulance company will attend Monday's City Council meeting set to consider awarding licenses to two of the company's competitors, a spokeswoman said.

Decatur Emergency Medical Service's monopoly on emergency calls in the city is being challenged by Decatur-based Med-Call Ambulance and Montgomery-based LifeStar Response of Alabama.

Both companies applied for local certificates of public necessity and convenience. But a Decatur EMS spokeswoman said Wednesday her company cannot support the proposed competition.

"We're of the opinion that it's not in the best interest of the city to allow more than one ambulance service," said Letitia Coleman, the company's chief financial officer and regional manager.

According to Coleman, allowing competing ambulance services could jeopardize the company's financial stability and lead to interruptions in service.

She said previous attempts to maintain competing ambulance services in Decatur ended when one of the companies left.

"Basically, we'll be there to observe and answer any questions, but we will definitely be there," Coleman said. "Decatur EMS is committed to providing the citizens and the city with the highest quality service possible."

Some councilmen remain unconvinced.

District 5 Councilman Ray Metzger said he has had enough of Decatur having only one ambulance service.

Decatur EMS has been under fire since 2005, when the Decatur Emergency Management Services Committee began seeking proposals from several ambulance companies.

Of the six companies that applied, Decatur EMS was ranked the lowest by a DEMSC sub-panel.

The meeting is at 4 p.m. Monday in the council chambers.

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