Thomas Co. commissioners still considering options to lower EMS costs

Updated: Jun. 21, 2017 at 7:14 PM EDT
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THOMAS CO., GA (WALB) - Thomas County Commissioners said the county is paying nearly triple the amount others do for their ambulance services, and they want to do something about it.

The county is looking at several options, including privatizing their ambulance services.

A public meeting was held last night for these companies to present proposals and to hear public input.

EMS Services cost Thomas County $1.8 million a year, and county leaders said that is just too much.

They want the quality of care to remain the same, but at a fraction of the cost.

Nearby counties like Mitchell and Lowndes are spending less than $1 million a year on these services.

Some have done that by switching to private EMS companies.

Recently, Community Ambulance of Macon, Grady EMS of Atlanta, and Gold Star of Thomasville submitted proposals to the county for service.

Gold Star ambulance had the lowest bid for the county, estimating they could do it at a cost of $0.

But some commissioners fear that the cost will go up after the first year.

"What happens after the first year you say, 'Oh no, we can't do this for zero, we need to do it for $200,000'. How long can you guarantee that? For the full length of the contract?"

Two alternate proposals were also received for contracting emergency medical billing services only. They proposed revenue increases based on better billing.

The last option commissioners are looking into is possibly merging Fire/Rescue with Emergency Medical Services.

Many Thomas County residents are worried about job security for current employees if the county switches to a private company.

"My husband is one of the supervisors and directors you keep referring to, it's never been about the money. Some of them have been with the county for as long as you've been with the county, cause they matter," said Mary Coram.

"Even if they do promise to keep everyone, we're going to lose people, that troubles me. Because new paramedics are not the same as someone who has been at it for 10 years," explained Dr. Sanford Hawkins, EMS Medical Director

There is no set date yet on when the county could make a decision.

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