Bertie County talks localizing EMS, filing suit against First Me - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken News, Weather, Sports

Bertie County talks localizing EMS, filing suit against First Med

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WINDSOR, N.C. - Bertie County commissioners are making sure emergency services won't be interrupted while they look for a new provider.

First Med EMS announced suddenly this week that it’s bankrupt, forcing commissioners to declare a state of emergency and hire all of First Med's employees.
    
The county was also granted an injunction to hold on to the company's assets.
    
At their meeting Thursday morning, commissioners talked about localizing EMS rather than outsourcing to a private company.
    
Bertie County is filing a lawsuit against the company for breach of contract.

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Bertie County's EMS provider closed unexpectedly and the decision left many asking why. Two months ago, First Med EMS set up shop and agreed to provide services for five years.

County officials say the closure is a breach of contract. "It was a five year agreement. The board had gone through a competitive recruitment process and First Med was selected," County Manager Scott Sauer said. 

The county is now investigating what happened. The sudden decision to let its employees go came as a shock to everyone. First in Ohio, then in Virginia and North Carolina.

News reports say Bertie County's emergency management director even asked if they were next. Company officials said no. The next day (Monday), Bertie County Board of Commissioners declared a state of emergency. At their meeting, First Med announced it was filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
    
Sauer says a representative showed up to seize control of the company's equipment. “Well, we were certainly shocked. It is very unfortunate and we are very concerned for all the employees that were impacted,” said Scott Sauer. “It's our understanding that under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, there should have been at least been a 60 day notice.”

Tuesday, a judge granted the county an injunction to keep the equipment for 10 days. County Manager Sauer also says they hired all 50 EMS employees until they can figure out a plan.

A couple of employees laid off across the country already filed a class action lawsuit in a U.S. District Court in Wilmington. The suit seeks payouts to recover 60 days' pay and bonuses, accrued holiday and vacation pay, pension and 401(k) contributions and unemployment benefits.

9 On Your Side called the company's CEO Bryan Gibson. Our affiliate in Huntsville, Ala. confirms he is the CEO of another ambulance service, Shoals Ambulance Service. 

There is speculation Bryan Gibson intends on buying First Med's assets out of bankruptcy while continuing to run his new operations in Alabama and Tennessee.

Gibson nor his partner Samarth Chandra did not return our calls. 
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