County supervisors seek ambulance proposals to decrease response time

The issue was addressed after an ambulance took around 30 minutes to arrive at the mayor's mother's house for a possible stroke

By David Hamilton
The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ, Miss. — Adams County Supervisors voted Monday to seek proposals from ambulance services to address concerns about slow response times from emergency services.

District 2 Supervisor David Carter brought up the issue at Monday's regular meeting after an incident Friday when an ambulance took approximately half an hour to reach the house of Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell's mother.

The medical call initially was in regards to a possible stroke, but Grennell's mother was actually having diabetic complications and is now doing fine.

This issue of response time, however, is not an isolated incident, Carter said.

Carter said as the system currently operates, response times would remain "a continual problem."

Adams County is one of the few counties in Mississippi to not have an exclusive agreement for emergency ambulance response service.

Currently emergency calls in Adams County are rotated through two providers, American Medical Response (AMR) and Metro Ambulance.

Regarding response times, Carter said the county once pulled the records of the services and accordingly requested ambulances to respond in less than 9 minutes to calls within the city and 16 minutes to those in the county.

"I want to say 60 percent of the calls altogether were outside of that time frame," Carter said. "You can't blame them, AMR or Metro... it's more on us. But we're the ones that can change it."

Carter also mentioned a similar incident that occurred in August 2016, when an ambulance reportedly took more than 20 minutes to reach a Cathedral football player who suffered a neck injury during a game. That incident paralleled Friday's in that AMR received the call, but due to a call overload the nearest available ambulance would have had to come from Fayette. AMR then relayed a call to Metro, which, in turn, sent an ambulance to Cathedral.

After Carter's comments, District 5 Supervisor Calvin Butler supported the initiative to examine the current landscape of EMS.

"I think the whole board agrees on the ambulance situation about trying to figure out how to make that better," Butler said.

Carter then suggested that the board revisit the issue by reissuing an RFP and considering the move to use of a single ambulatory service rather than two.

"Even if you have the best dispatch system in the U.S., you still have the same problem is you rotate providers," Carter said. "Until we actually consolidate, have one person responsible for time frames, it's not going to matter what dispatch does," Carter said.

Adams County Emergency Management Director Robert Bradford said any issues with response time have nothing to do with E911 dispatchers, who simply transfer callers to the ambulance services.

"By them being a private entity, we cannot control their vehicles in dispatch, so there's a difference. The only thing we do, we forward the call," Bradford said.

"People get E911 confused with EMS. It's totally different things."

After board of supervisors President Mike Lazarus asked for a motion to issue the RFP, the board voted unanimously to seek the proposals.

Carter said the board should be able to use the same RFP as the last time the board sought proposals.

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