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Competition Coming for Decatur’s Sole Ambulance Provider

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The Decatur City Council accepted applications from two ambulance companies that want to start doing business in the River City.

Currently, there's only one company that runs on emergency calls, but its response times are under fire.

Decatur City ordinances stipulate when someone needs an ambulance, the crew should be there within eight minutes, 90% of the time.

However, city officials say that hasn't been happening.

"Over the course of the past two years, they have not met that percentile," said Decatur Fire and Rescue Chief Darwin Clark.

Clark is talking about Decatur Medical Emergency Services, or Demsi, the city's only ambulance service.

He said crews have a record of an 8-minute response time 82% of the time instead of 90%.

Monday night, the city council opened the door to competition, accepting applications from two other companies who want to service Decatur.

The mayor said, however, that doesn't mean they'll end up here.

"I don't know if Decatur is big enough to have two ambulance services," said Mayor Don Stanford.

He noted a long history of problems with Demsi and says improvement is needed.

"We want to be sure when somebody picks up a phone and dials 911, that they get an 8-minutes or less response like they should," said Stanford.

Clark is working on tweaking the city ordinance to toughen guidelines and accountability.

"Hopefully we'll be seeing some improvements over the next couple of months," said Clark.

The council will review the applications over the next 30 days.

WHNT NEWS 19 reached out to Decatur Medical Emergency Services for comment, but they did not return our calls.

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