The Pine Bluff City Council on Monday will read for the first time a proposed ordinance to award Emergency Ambulance Service Inc. (EASI) an exclusive five-year franchise agreement.
The proposal was discussed during a meeting of the council’s Public Safety Committee Tuesday, and Alderman Bill Brumett said that the agreement has to be approved by September 20 or the city would be left without ambulance service.
Both EASI and Pafford Medical Services submitted bids to provide ambulance service and those bids were reviewed by a selection committee that included Deputy Coroner John Lawson, Dr. David Lupo, the former Chief of Medicine at Jefferson Regional Medical Center, Fire and Emergency Services Chief Shauwn Howell, JRMC Trauma Coordinator Carla McMillan, Pine Bluff Police Lt. Bill Wiegand, the director of Emergency Medical Services at the Dewitt Hospital, Tricia McElroy, and the director of Labor and Delivery at JRMC, Susan Sweat.
After reviewing both proposals, the committee unanimously recommended EASI as best able to provide the service.
In a letter that was attached to the proposed ordinance, Lawson, who served as chairman of the committee, said the selection of EASI was based on the four primary factors being directly related to satisfying bid specifications.
Those four primary factors were as follows:
- Ten (10) fully staffed Advance Life Support (ALS) ambulances at the company’s expense.
EASI’s bid listed 17 ALS ambulances at its primary station in Pine Bluff with additional ambulances available in surrounding cities and counties for an unusually high call volume or disasters. No BLS (Basic Life Support) level ambulances were included.
Pafford’s bid did not satisfy the minimum requirement for ALS ambulances. The bid proposed 10 vehicles, but two of them would have been BLS ambulances and a third a Paramedic Rescue Vehicle.
- Request for proposal exclusive to Pine Bluff.
EASI proposed maintaining its current primary station in downtown Pine Bluff with enough ambulances to meet or exceed the bid requirements.
Pafford proposed stationing ambulances in White Hall in their bid, which would reduce the number of ambulances dedicated to the city of Pine Bluff. The ambulance contract is exclusively for Pine Bluff and the committee said they could not consider proposals for servicing other areas.
- Providing all facilities necessary to operate an ambulance service in Pine Bluff.
EASI listed their properties located on West Fifth Avenue as the primary location for stationing ambulances, dispatch center and billing. The company owns the properties.
Pafford proposed two methods for stationing ambulances. The first relied on the use of fire stations throughout the city and paying the fire department monthly rent. Howell said he had not been told about that proposal and would not be in favor of implementing it. The City Attorney’s office said any decision to use that model would require a multi-level approval process and Pafford did not provide any evidence that this process had been started. The alternative station model incorporated three stations including one in White Hall.
- Communications Equipment
EASI currently has a communications center at their headquarters and is networked with MECA (Metropolitan Emergency Communications Association). The communications center also serves as a backup for 911 service.
In its bid, Pafford mentions its call center, which is located in Hope, more than 100 miles from Pine Bluff, and did not mention any plans to operate a local communications/dispatch center.