JUDGE: County looking into ambulance issues with AMR
For over 16 years a contract has been in place between the City of Rockdale, the City of Cameron and the County of Milam (the Coalition) and American Medical Response (AMR) to provide ambulance service in Milam County.
The contract requires that AMR provide three 24-hour ambulances located in the County at Rockdale, Milano and Cameron. The contract also provides that AMR will provide one 12-hour ambulance and two additional backup ambulances, none of which have to be stationed in the county.
Most recently, AMR has failed to adhere to the contractual provisions, which has resulted in a shortage of ambulances. On numerous occasions, a needed ambulance has not been available or very late. On numerous occasions our great volunteer fire departments have gone above and beyond the call of duty by responding to the emergency and in some cases using their own personal vehicles to transport a person to a hospital.
We must have adequate ambulances in the county and AMR must adhere to its contractual obligations. Therefore, last Friday the Coalition wrote AMR demanding that the existing contract be immediately adhered to. On Tuesday, Aug. 24, AMR responded to the demand and a meeting will be held early next week between the Coalition and AMR to discuss the matter further.
For many years there has been a concern that another ambulance was needed as there are often times when all three are out on a call when a fourth call comes in.
Today, it appears that a large part of the problem is getting sufficient paramedics to man the ambulances. This problem is exasperated by the lack of a nearby hospital as we used to have which causes longer transport times. Further, overcrowded hospitals often cause longer unloading times due to the lack of a triage room.
However, staffing issues are a management problem.
The Coalition subsidizes the AMR operation to the tune of about $350,000 every year. The County pays about $150,000, the City of Rockdale about $100,000, and the City of Cameron about $100,000. The Coalition also provides housing for the AMR crews in Rockdale, Milano and Cameron. We are living up to our end of the bargain. Now AMR must live up to their end of the bargain.