MUSCLE SHOALS — Another company has entered the controversy on who will provide ambulance service in Muscle Shoals
Jason Tindal, of Decatur-based First Response Ambulance, made a presentation to council members Monday, verbalizing the company’s plans to seek a business license to offer general transport services in the city.
A general transport license allows an ambulance company to move patients from homes, nursing homes, hospitals and doctor’s office and other facilities to medical treatment facilities such as clinics and hospitals.
The council delayed voting on the matter, pending verification of the company’s state ambulance license and liability insurance, but Tindal said he’s confident the city will grant the business license.
He said the general transport license is his first step in preparing to bid on a contract to provide emergency ambulance response within the city limits, which is currently a controversial issue.
City officials said they have the authority to choose the emergency ambulance service provider within the city limits.
In April, the city sought to name Muscle Shoals-based Shoals Ambulance Service as the primary provider, but the Colbert County E-911 board objected and chose to continue dispatching Keller EMS, which is operated by Helen Keller Hospital in Sheffield. Shoals Ambulance Service would be based at Shoals Hospital in Muscle Shoals.
Officials on both side of the dispute requested an attorney general’s opinion the matter. The opinion, released in August, sided with Muscle Shoals’ right to name a provider but added the contract must be bid if the city sought an exclusive contract.
Attorney general opinions are not binding.
“We didn’t mean to be, but we are in the middle of somewhat of a fire storm,” Councilman Joe Pampinto said. “We want to make sure we step through it in a way that is fair and gives the best service to the citizens and is in compliance with the Attorney General’s order.”
Muscle Shoals Mayor David Bradford said the city is in the process of creating the bid package, and said it has been a lengthy process.
“We’ve never had to do this,” he said. “It is just going to take a while to make sure we have everything in place.”
Tindal said if the business license is approved for general patient transports, the company will open an office in Muscle Shoals. He said they currently have two ambulances but could quickly access other ambulances.
“We will be capable of fulfilling all the criteria of the (request for proposal),” Tindal said. “Right now we have two ambulances, but if the city decides it needs six, I could have that by Monday.”
Tindal said, assuming the license is approved, he’d expect to start operating in Muscle Shoals within two months. If Tindal supplies the needed documents, the council could vote on the license in their next meeting, Nov. 5.
Jennifer Edwards can be reached at 256-740-5754 or jennifer.edwards@TimesDaily.com.