Heated discussion: Ambulance commission defends wording of RFP

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Eastern Carroll County Ambulance District Commission doesn’t plan on changing its Request For Proposals, commissioners said at a Sept. 13 meeting, despite criticism from Green Forest Mayor Charlie Reece.

The commission was discussing its goal of securing interlocal agreements with the cities of Berryville, Green Forest and Oak Grove when Reece said Green Forest officials have concerns about the wording of the RFP. In particular, Reece questioned a section of the document that asks ambulance service providers to submit proposals for three options.

“One of the big concerns is the options, because that’s a train wreck in my humble opinion,” Reece said.

Option A would include two fully staffed advanced life support ambulances, each staffed by a minimum of one emergency medical technician and one paramedic, 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

Option B would include two fully staffed advanced life support ambulances 24 hours a day and seven days a week, with a third advanced life support ambulance 12 hours a day and seven days a week, with each of the three ambulances staffed by a minimum of one emergency medical technician and one paramedic.

Option C asks bidders to submit alternative proposals that meet the performance standards and other requirements described in the contract language.

Commission chairman David Stoppel said the options are included in the RFP because the commission wants to know what possibilities exist for service beyond a minimum level.

“We need to know what we can get for our money,” Stoppel said. “We don’t want to limit what we can get.”

The interlocal agreements would essentially give the ambulance service chosen by the commission the right to operate exclusively inside each city.

“I doubt that the mayors will sign off on it,” Reece said.

“So y’all are gonna slow us down, after asking us to speed it up,” said commissioner JoAnn Griesenauer.

Reece chaired an ad hoc citizens’ committee that studied the issue of ambulance service and made recommendations to the quorum court before voters approved the creation of the ambulance district.

Griesenauer said Reece wants to direct the process of selecting an ambulance service.

“You want control,” she said.

“You’re being defensive,” Reece said.

“Yes I am, sir, because I don’t like being threatened,” Griesenauer replied.

Griesenauer referred to emails that she said she received from Reece.

“You told me to ‘watch it,’ and ‘be careful,’ ” she said. “I don’t appreciate that.”

“I figured I would get a lot of defensive people,” Reece said.

“Every meeting we come to, you’re asking us to speed it up, speed it up,” Griesenauer said. “Then behind our backs you’re trying to slow it down.”

“I haven’t done anything behind your back,” Reece replied.

Commissioner Amy Leivan said she had spoken with a representative of the Arkansas Association of Counties who advised her that the commission can proceed with the RFP and sign a contract with an ambulance service provider without having interlocal agreements in place with the cities.

“It’s not the best way to do it,” Leivan said. “And I’m not saying that’s what we need to do.”

“We would like to be in agreement with all the cities, but if that doesn’t happen we can still move forward,” Stoppel said.

Leivan said she doesn’t support changing the RFP.

“It’s done and I don’t think we need to redo it,” she said.

Reece said he expected to meet with Berryville Mayor Tim McKinney this week to discuss the issue.

“Personally, the three options stick in my craw,” he said.

“My personal opinion is, the RFP is not gonna change,” Leivan said. “After all the work we’ve put into it, we’re not gonna change the wording.”

After some further discussion, Reece asked the commission: “What’s your drop-dead date that you need the interlocals?”

“March 1, of this year,” Stoppel replied. He went on to say that the commission had hoped to have the interlocal agreements secured before the Sept. 13 meeting.

“We’ve been told numerous times that they shouldn’t be a problem,” Leivan said.

Reece said he should be able to meet with McKinney and Oak Grove Mayor Patsy Carlton within the next two weeks.

“If the options are totally not touchable, so be it,” he said.

The commission voted to schedule its next meeting for 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29, at the Carroll County Eastern District Courthouse in Berryville.

If the interlocal agreements are not signed by that date, Stoppel said, the commission will have to determine whether to delay releasing the RFP or move forward without the interlocal agreements.

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