The commissioner for the Georgia Department of Public Health rescinded his decision to open Barrow County’s Emergency Medical Services to bids from outside vendors this week.
On Jan. 22, Patrick O’Neal directed the Northeast Georgia Region 10 EMS council to accept bid proposals from all interested licensed ambulance providers, which could have ended service provided by the county. Before O’Neal rescinded his decision, the council was scheduled to make a written recommendation on who would provide EMS coverage in Barrow County by March 19.
On March 6, O’Neal issued a letter to the council reversing his original decision, which will allow Barrow County to continue providing EMS services to all citizens within the county.
“We think this is the best decision for Barrow County, both in the level of service provided and in the best interest of the taxpayers’ dollar,” County Manager Mike Renshaw said. “BCES has provided high-quality Emergency Medical Services to Barrow County for over 40 years and is committed to continuing to maintain the highest standard of care for many years to come.”
Barrow County currently has six ambulances placed around the county in an effort to provide the best coverage in a timely manner. The overall response time of the ambulances is 7 minutes and 21 seconds.
The proposal to use a private ambulance service, as suggested by the City of Winder, would have provided a service that included an average response time of up to 9 minutes and 59 seconds for 90 percent of calls.
Todd Saxton’s mom lives in Winder and has had to call Barrow County Emergency Services multiple times. Saxton said he’s happy with the decision for Barrow County to continue providing EMS services in Winder.
“My mom, she’s 82, and when she has a spell or something she gets a quick response from Barrow County,” Saxton said. “They know how to treat her, and they know where to take her when something happens.”
O’Neal’s rescinded decision is effective immediately.
Luke Gamble is a senior majoring in journalism at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.