FLORENCE — One of the first things the new Lauderdale County Commission will have to address will be the specifications to be sent out for awarding emergency medical services for the county.
The entire commission and the new commission chairman will be sworn in today. They’re sworn in every four years.
During a work session, Lauderdale County Emergency Management Director and 911 Director George Grabryan will present the commission with a draft of the bid specifications.
“I was instructed to put this together, and I have met with the county administrator, the purchasing agent with the city of Florence, attorneys for the 911 board, the city of Florence and the county to work on the specs,” Grabryan said.
Grabryan said specifications for bids for ambulance service just for Lauderdale County will be given to the commission and he has prepared specifications for bids for emergency medical services just for the city of Florence.
“The City Council should have that information to review at their next meeting,” Grabryan said.
On Oct. 22, the commission voted 3-1 to accept a proposal from Lauderdale EMS, which is owned by Helen Keller Hospital in Sheffield. Shoals Ambulance, which is based at Shoals Hospital in Muscle Shoals, was the only other company to submit a bid for the county’s service.
Florence officials voted Oct. 2 to go with Shoals Ambulance. The move resulted in termination of a joint, four-year agreement between the city and county to use the same primary emergency medical provider. It meant both entities now have to accept bids for ambulance service within their own jurisdiction.
During the past four years, Lauderdale EMS had a contract with the city and county that charged rates based on the company having all of the primary ambulance business.
County officials said the county and city have been involved in a joint ambulance contract for about 14 years. The emergency medical provider contract is annually renewed by all parties, which is generally a formality as long as everyone is pleased with the service.
In June, Florence council members voted to rebid the contract. A few days later, county commissioners made the same decision.
“This is a rough draft (of the specifications) that the commissioners will be getting,” Lauderdale County attorney Chris Smith said. “It’s something that the City Council and the County Commission will be looking at to see if it is what they want before it is put out for perspective bidders.”
Smith said one of the biggest issues that had to be addressed in the development stage was establishing a “geographic footprint” for the two bids.
“Since (the coverage area) was not together anymore it had to be divided” in the bid specs, he said.
Smith said he expects commissioners to review the draft and be ready to discuss it in detail at the commission’s December meeting.
“Once they get the draft, that’s when the real work will begin, making sure everything they want is in the specifications,” he said.
The emergency medical service contract ended Sept. 1, but Lauderdale EMS has agreed to continue providing service on a month-to-month basis until the issue is resolved.
Tom Smith can be reached at 256--740-5757 or tom.smith@TimesDaily.com.