DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) – The committee that oversees emergency medical services in Decatur votes today to revoke the license of one of that city’s two ambulance services. Never before has the city had to take such drastic steps to insure adequate emergency medical services.
The committee’s decision is, by law, a recommendation only. But it now goes to the city council and they will ultimately decide whether DEMSI stays or goes.
Decatur Fire Battalion Chief Ted McKelvey tells the committee DEMSI has not been in compliance with the city’s ambulance service ordinance since their employees walked off the job February 7th. The employees told us they were simply tired of late and bounced paychecks. McKelvey says because of a history of problems with DEMSI, he recommended their license to operate be revoked. And the EMS committee agreed on a 3-to-2 vote.
“Now, of course, that is still going to the city council for a final decision,” according to Decatur Fire & Rescue Battalion Chief Ted McKelvey.
DEMSI spokesperson Tessa Green told the committee the company does have financial problems that she blames on medicare and the economy in general.
“As we looked in our financial system today, we saw that we finally are going to get revenue in so that we can pay our employees. Some have been paid, but since the revenue actually stopped, it put us in a very bad predicament,” Green told the committee during a special called meeting Friday afternoon. She says DEMSI failed to renew their Medicaid license last year, which is the company’s primary source of income. But DEMSI employees tell us the problems go back much further. They say their paychecks have been bouncing or arriving late for well over a year.
Chief McKelvey also says DEMSI has been slow to respond to emergency calls for help, with a response time greater than 8 minutes most of the time. It’s now up to the city council to decide whether they’re willing to accept this level of service.