AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – The future of ambulance services in Augusta is now up in the air as city leaders continue negotiation with the new state designated provider, Central EMS.
“It means we’re going to have to get things moving quicker from a subcommittee standpoint to get back to the commission so we can make a determination from a subsidy standpoint,” said Commissioner Sean Frantom.
Gold Cross is handling emergency calls on a monthly contract until Central EMS takes over on May 1st, but Gold Cross has submitted its 30-day notice saying it will stop operations on April 21st.
At Central’s job fair this week, it hired more than 100 new employees, many of which had worked for Gold Cross.
“Now, Central is actually hiring their employees $2 to $5 more an hour, which is kind of underhanded, but I guess that’s business,” said Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle.
City leaders are saying Gold Cross leaving nine days before Central is set to take over needs to be immediate commission business.
“We definitely have to have a conversation next week on Wednesday’s committee’s agenda about this. The path forward – the subsidy rate – I think it’s time we discuss the subsidy rate. I’m hoping today that the numbers will be discussed. If not, we need to discuss them next week,” said Commissioner Frantom.
At today’s subcommittee meeting, the Gold Cross situation was discussed, but no numbers in terms of a subsidy.
Central EMS assured the committee it will do what needs to be done to respond to calls after Gold Cross leaves.
“We are not going to leave the citizens where they don’t have an ambulance. Is that stressful? Yes, it is. Did we have contingency plans in order to do this? Yes, we did,” said Central EMS President Gary Coker.
Transitioning to a new ambulance company was always going to be difficult work, but now this work getting a lot more difficult.