Lee County Investigating EMS Privatization

Lee County Investigating EMS Privatization

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Lee County leaders are looking at other counties that have privatized Emergency Medical Services to see if that would be a good option for them.

Critics worry the quality of service would suffer.

Lee County officials are investigating how privately run EMS services in neighboring counties operate.

Paramedics in Sumter County don't waste time getting to where they are needed and over the last year response times have been shaved by five minutes.

Charles Proctor, the owner of Goldstar Ambulance, which has operations in multiple communities in South Georgia, including Sumter County, said "We took a ridiculous response time and parred it down to a 7:25 response time to almost anywhere we are requested."

Proctor, a former paramedic himself, and his business partner, took over operations of Sumter County EMS services from another private company a little over a year ago, investing in new and more trucks, new life saving equipment, and more training for employees with a fresh business model.

Proctor says Sumter Commissioners seem happy with their services, "They don't get any complaints anymore and they are satisfied with what we are doing."

Lee County Manager Ron Rabun says, "We have a good product, we have a good EMS, but what is the price?"

Rabun and his staff are comparing his county's costs to neighboring counties, "Grady County pays $900,000 a year for service, and they are a county of about 30,000 people.  We pay 2.5 million, and that's a big difference."

Lee County leaders want to know if they can save tax payer money without losing the quality service citizens have come to expect.

Rabun says "I expect they need to support some level of service but is 2 million dollars too high or too low, we need to find out."

Lee County Commissioners could vote to start the bidding process at their next meeting in two weeks.

Lee County spends 2.516 million dollars a year to operate EMS for the county.

The county brings in about $500,000 dollars a year in revenue from EMS from patients who are billed after calling 911.

That leaves Lee County taxpayers on the hook for about $2 million dollars a year.

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