Ambulance update: 4 companies submit bids for eastern district contract
Four ambulance service providers have submitted bids to the Eastern Carroll County Ambulance District commission to provide emergency service east of the Kings River.
Mercy, North Arkansas Regional Medical Center, Pafford EMS and Southern Paramedic Service all submitted bids before the commission’s deadline of noon on Wednesday, Nov. 1.
The commission met briefly Friday to open the proposals, which were then distributed to individual commissioners to study over the weekend. The commission was scheduled to meet again Monday night to begin scoring the proposals, with the current timeline calling for a winning bid to be selected on Wednesday, Nov. 8.
Although the commission did not reveal details about any of the proposals on Friday, it was noted that Southern Paramedic Service’s proposal was more than 700 pages.
Commissioner JoAnn Griesenauer, who returned to Arkansas shortly before Friday’s meeting after spending several weeks providing emergency medical services in Puerto Rico, said she was not “super comfortable” with the commission’s timeline.
“I don’t know what to tell you,” commission chairman David Stoppel replied.
Griesenauer said she believed the commissioners need more time to study the proposals and suggested that the timeline for selecting a winning proposal be extended by one week.
“Unless I’m going to be replaced on this commission, I’m officially asking to extend this,” she said.
Stoppel said a vote on extending the timeline would have to be held at Monday’s meeting, but said that he personally would not vote for an extension.
Emergency ambulance service in the eastern
portion of the county has been provided by Mercy and Southern, with assistance from Eureka Springs Fire & EMS, NARMC and services from neighboring counties as needed since May 30, when Ozark EMS officially withdrew as the exclusive provider in eastern Carroll County. Both Mercy and Southern have indicated they are incurring financial losses by providing the service with no compensation from the county, spurring the commission to accelerate its timeline. The commission’s current goal is to have a signed agreement by Nov. 30, with the expectation that service will begin within 60 to 90 days of the signing.
Voters in eastern Carroll County approved the creation of the ambulance district in the November 2016 general election, when they also approved a 2.5-mill property tax to fund the district’s operation. The commission, which was appointed by County Judge Sam Barr with the approval of the county quorum court, has oversight for emergency ambulance service in the district and has been working since January with the goal of signing a long-term contract with an ambulance service.