Media release: Bartow County announces today the intent to enter into a contract with MetroAtlanta Ambulance Service to provide 9-1-1 ambulance service in Bartow County. Metro has been the long-time 9-1-1 ambulance provider for Cobb County and has recently taken over serving Paulding County. Metro has also operated multiple ambulances in the County for several years under contract to Cartersville Medical Center for transports.
Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor says, “This is one of the most difficult decision I have had to make, but I believe it is in the best interests of the citizens. It’s been something that we have talked about for six years, but its basically a financial decision. We just can’t afford to keep a county-owned service any longer. Metro can provide excellent service at a huge financial savings to the taxpayers.”
Metro has agreed to take over operations with no subsidy from the County. The ambulance service operated at a loss of over $2,000,000 in FY 2017 and is already at a loss of $950,000 for the first five months of FY 2018. Over the last ten years, the service has lost $13,500,000 (that is, the excess of expenses over billing revenue). That figure does not capture all costs, such as SPLOST expenditures on ambulances and billing service costs. Metro can provide excellent service but they have the economies of scale to operate in a profitable fashion.
The County will enter into a detailed contract governing performance standards, and Metro is in fact willing to guarantee a response time, from the time the call is received by 9-1-1 dispatch to the time the ambulance arrives on the scene, that is shorter than what our existing service provides. Metro will be operating six “24-hour” trucks, just as EMS does now, from the same five stations. Metro will also be operating at least three “12-hour” trucks, which is more than EMS provides now. Metro also has typically about 32 to 36 ambulances in Cobb County and 10 to 12 in Paulding, which provide additional regional resources.
“Bartow EMS has a great service and we hope to retain all of the current employees. Once the contract is signed, we will start the transition process. We will be purchasing all new equipment and trucks for Bartow County. We are shooting for an October 1 start date,” says Devan Seabaugh, VP of Administration at MetroAtlanta Ambulance.
Metro is headquartered in Cobb County, where they have extensive administrative, training and maintenance facilities. Metro has also agreed to hire all full-time Bartow County personnel, at the same or higher pay than their existing pay. The County will be entering a five-year contract, with the option to terminate annually if the service provided is not satisfactory. We do not anticipate needing to exercise that option, but if we do, we have a number of other companies who would be interested in serving Bartow County.
Commissioner Taylor says, “The County takes public safety as its highest priority and we would do nothing to jeopardize that. We have spent a great deal of time considering options and proposals and believe this to be the best option to provide quality EMS service as well as savings to the taxpayer.”
The County intends to execute the contract July 11 and the transition to take three to four months.