October 30 — Members of the Effingham County Ambulance Watch Committee continued this week their review of three ambulance services that wish to provide 911 ambulance service for the county.
Representatives from Rural Med, Lakeside EMS and Abbott EMS all attended a meeting on Wednesday to answer questions from the committee. Abbott EMS is currently the provider of 911 ambulance services for Effingham County. Only one ambulance service will be selected from the three that submitted proposals.
Under the direction of Committee Chair Rob Arnold, members reviewed each response to questions posed by the Committee. Arnold reviewed each written response to the questions and allowed committee members to ask follow-up questions of company representatives.
“All three vendors have followed our guidelines for handing over documentation,” said Arnold.
One set of questions referred to the minimum service requirements that each ambulance company is required to meet. The ambulance company chosen to serve Effingham County will begin operations on May 1, 2022, starting with a three-year contract.
Some of the questions involved proof of all licenses issued by the Illinois Department of Public Health and areas where they are licensed to provide emergency services, how many employees are certified as primary instructors, how many paramedics and paramedics are employed, average response time to calls whether or not they agree with the termination service requirement. Each company was asked if they agreed with the penalties for breach of contract.
How many doctors and paramedics?
Rural Med said it currently has no dedicated staff in Effingham County due to lack of need or contractual obligation. They think we’ll keep 30-50% of those who work for the current vendor, as has happened in the past when vendors have changed. Rural med said it also has additional staff from its bases in St. Elmo, Vandalia and Greenville. The teams will work around the clock, with 48 hours off over a period of five days off every three weeks.
Lakeland EMS said it has plenty of medics and paramedics to fill out a list of five trucks. However, given that Lakeside does not have a current contract in Effingham County, staffing five trucks would make no sense. Additional staff work in its four other locations. They said they now employed two trucks in Effingham County. They said they had a total of seven paramedics and 11 paramedics working in Effingham County. They said they would have additional staff to pull out if a contract was awarded.
Abbott EMS said it has more than 50 experienced caregivers – 20 paramedics and 28 paramedics working in the county.
The committee asked applicants if they would comply with the response time requirements specified by the county, asking if this was achievable and companies to offer recommendations or concerns:
Rural Med said it would comply. The company said it was concerned that delivery times would be very fluid depending on traffic, farm machinery, construction, trains, weather and the location of the ambulance at the time of shipment. . He said any response time violation should be collaboratively reviewed to assess whether or not a situation warrants a longer response time.
Lakeside EMS has said it will comply. Lakeside said the fines should be imposed for legitimate reasons. He said if the weather is bad there should be no fine for the understaffing.
Abbott EMS said it can meet response times and has a history of compliance. He said the committee should consider adding an ambulance display strategy to help serve outlying areas.
The committee asked candidates if they agreed with the county’s stipulation not to increase rates for the first 12 months of the contract:
Rural Med, Lakeside EMS, and Abbott EMS have all agreed not to increase rates during this time.
Arnold said the next special committee meeting will be on Wednesday, November 3 at 6 p.m. ET.
Two release forms for each ambulance company have been distributed by Arnold and must be signed to allow Bushue HR to perform a background check on each organization. He said they should return the signed forms as soon as possible to Effingham County Council office administrator Deb Ruholl.
Charles Mills can be reached at [email protected] or by phone at 217-347-7151 ext. 126.