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UPDATE: Hartselle City Council Tables Ambulance Service Agreement

County EMS ambulance responds to an emergency call.  (Photo: Al Whitaker, WHNT News 19)

County EMS ambulance responds to an emergency call. (Photo: Al Whitaker, WHNT News 19)

UPDATE: The Hartselle City Council, on a unanimous vote, decided Tuesday night to postpone action on a proposal to award the city’s exclusive ambulance and EMS agreement after City Attorney Larry Madison and Mayor Don Hall both said they had received new information regarding one of the three companies vying for the contract.

Neither Hall, Madison nor Hartselle Fire Chief Steve Shelton would disclose the nature nor the source of the “new” information. Shelton chairs the city’s EMS Committee that had been preparing to recommend the city council renew its contract with County EMS, the city’s current EMS provider.

“The city’s been well pleased with the level of service from County (EMS),” Shelton told WHNT News 19 before being advised not to make any further comment on the matter. Shelton was about to give an on-camera interview to WHNT News 19 when he received a phone call and was told not to comment.

Following the meeting, Madison told WHNT News 19, “Information came to us this afternoon that if verified, and I’m not stating that, we have not verified it, but if verified would reflect on the ability of one of the providers who applied to satisfactorily complete the, or to qualify really, to serve as the ambulance provider.”

Shelton told WHNT News 19 earlier in the day the city’s EMS Committee had voted 4-to-2 last Friday to recommend awarding the contract to County EMS.

Matthew Garwood is the son of former County EMS owner Terry Garwood, who passed away suddenly earlier this year. Following the meeting, he told reporters he is not officially the company’s new owner while the matter remains in probate, but described himself as the executor of his father’s estate. Standing in front of a County EMS ambulance that had been brought to the meeting, Garwood told reporters he did not know what the new information was, but said they’ll “play the waiting game”with city officials. He expressed confidence whatever the issues were they would eventually be resolved.

(Original story below.)

HARTSELLE, Ala. (WHNT) It appears we’ll have to wait to find out which company will win the contract for ambulance service in Hartselle. City leaders invited other companies to apply for the contract after County EMS had several of their vehicles repossessed. Earlier today, it seemed as though County EMS would get to keep the contract but now city officials aren’t saying what they’re going to do.

The problems for County EMS started earlier this year after the company’s owner suddenly passed away. While his assets were tied up in probate, three of their five ambulances were repossessed. The company struggled through the situation with support from near-by Samaritan Ambulance Service, and eventually got their vehicles back. Hartselle Fire Chief Steve Shelton says at no time was the city left without adequate emergency medical service.

But it prompted the city to re-examine its contract with County EMS, and the city issued an invitation to 14 other ambulance companies to apply for the Hartselle contract. Out of those 14, 6 did apply, and the city’s EMS Committee narrowed that list to just three, including County EMS. Chief Shelton says the committee met with all three of the companies last Friday, and voted 4-to-2 to give the contract back to County EMS on an annual basis and with a 6-month probationary period.

Chief Shelton told us this afternoon that the city has been well satisfied with County EMS ambulance service. But a short time later Shelton says he was ordered not to say anything more about the matter, and that a formal statement would be issued later today. Meanwhile, the ambulance service contract has been scheduled to be voted on at tonight’s Hartselle City Council meeting. It starts at 7, we’ll let you know what happens.

–Al Whitaker