AMR halts 911 ambulance service in parish

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 30, 2003

VIDALIA &045;&045; American Medical Response will no longer provide 911 ambulance service in Concordia Parish.

The Concordia Parish Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday received written notification of the decision, which leaves Metro Rural Services as the only 911 service provider in the parish.

AMR, which had alternated 911 response calls with Metro Rural since January, will continue to offer ambulance service to parish residents and medical facilities on request.

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At a meeting of the Concordia Parish Communications District on Wednesday, Christopher L. Cirillo, director of operations for AMR’s Gulf Coast division, explained that parish Ordinance 639 is a financial burden for his company.

The 1997 ordinance, which set regulations for ambulance services, requires all providers to have two fully-staffed trucks available for 911 service.

&uot;There is not enough business in the parish to cover the cost of running two 24-hour ambulances, even for one company, let alone two,&uot; Cirillo said. &uot;So we had to make a decision we really did not want to.&uot;

According to Cirillo, AMR hasn’t been in compliance with the ordinance since January.

AMR’s decision was brought on by an affidavit mailed last week to both service providers requiring an acknowledgment of compliance to Ordinance 639. District Secretary Vernon Stevens said the parish is concerned about legal concerns that may arise if a provider doesn’t quickly respond to a 911 call. &uot;We’re not going to accept liability when a provider is not in compliance,&uot; Stevens said. &uot;Metro Rural signed it and didn’t bat an eye. AMR wouldn’t sign because they weren’t in compliance.&uot;

The parish will require all future 911 service providers to sign a similar affidavit, something Sheriff Randy Maxwell, who serves as district chairman, believes will best serve the community.

In addition to his financial concerns, Cirillo believes the ordinance doesn’t insure a high level of service. He cited the prevalence of non-emergency services, typically involving the transporting of non-critical patients to Riverland Medical Center and other facilities throughout the region.

&uot;There are no assurances that your family will have help in an emergency,&uot; Cirillo said.

Michael Clayton, operations manager for Metro Rural Services, disagrees. He stated that when one of his ambulances transports a non-critical patient to and from Riverland, another is made available for 911 calls. &uot;We’ll never allow the parish to be without an ambulance to provide service,&uot; Clayton said. &uot;Quality ambulance service is critical in rural areas because of the distance between medical facilities.&uot;

Despite its withdrawal from the 911 rotation, AMS pledged to continue working closely with the district and the police jury.

Cirillo said his company would provide 911 support if called upon. &uot;We loathed making the decision,&uot; AMR spokesman Jim Pollard said. &uot;Profit is important, but we’re motivated by delivering quality care cost effectively.&uot;