DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) - Morgan County authorities moved closer to creating an exclusive territory for emergency medical services. The proposal would grant exclusive rights to one ambulance service to answer calls throughout the county. The only thing standing in the way right now is an attorney general's opinion on how far the county can go.
Authorities in Morgan County are convinced - the only way to insure there will always be adequate EMS service available throughout the county is to grant exclusive rights to one ambulance service. They've never done that before, so there are several legal questions to be answered before they move forward.
For example, does the county have the right to control all ambulance service or only emergency service? It's a well established fact that the bread and butter for an ambulance service these days are the non-emergency transfers, like moving a patients to and from nursing homes and doctor's visits.
Morgan County Commission Chairman Ray Long says, "We're not sure if they can regulate non-emergency services so we're asking their board to get an attorney general's opinion whether or not they can regulate emergency and non-emergency calls."
If they can regulate all service, the county's 9-1-1 board will simply advertise for proposals and award the contract to one company. But if they cannot regulate non-emergency service, it becomes extremely complicated. It means the county, along with its municipalities, will likely have to pay to subsidize a company to keep ambulances available for emergencies. The 9-1-1 board is expected to formally request the attorney general's opinion next week.
The City of Decatur is not included in this county-wide proposal. They're served by First Response Ambulance Service. We contacted the company and they said they would not apply for the county-wide contract unless it included subsidies that would offset the added expense.