AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — Words flew as commissioners debated a new ambulance contract, but what happened left some searching for words.
“I’m speechless right now, because what we just did put every citizen who is in need of an ambulance in harm’s way,” said Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle.
The motion to approve a new ambulance contract failed on a five to four vote with one abstaining. Long-time ambulance provider Gold Cross says it’s over.
“I hate that there was one abstain when there is no conflict of interest, you usually only abstain when there is a conflict of interest, we’ve notified the state that we are surrendering the zone [and] we will be leaving Augusta,” said Gold Cross Vice President Steven Vincent.
The fire chief told commissioners with Gold Cross out, the state Department of Health would appoint an ambulance provider.
“I feel as though we’re now in a position we don’t have a plan, if Gold Cross decides to walk tomorrow, the city of Augusta does not have a plan on how we provide ambulance service to our constituents,” said Mayor Garnett Johnson.
“It was an embarrassment for Augusta-Richmond County, once we lose this ambulance service, we don’t know who our provider is going to be, we don’t know how much they’re going to charge, how many ambulances they’re going to have, we don’t know any of that,” said Commissioner Alvin Mason.
“If they do leave, we’ll be covered, the ambulance service of Georgia has procedures in place that will take care of Augusta until we get another ambulance service,” said Commissioner Bobby Williams.
Commissioner Jordan Johnson made a motion to continue negotiations, but that also failed.
“The time for negotiations ended already,” said Vincent.
“Who will answer 9-1-1 calls? How long will you physically be here running calls?”
“Can’t really say that right now, that’s for the state to determine, but it won’t be long,” said Vincent.
And that could leave the city in a real emergency.
RICHMOND COUNTY, Ga. (WJBF) — Gold Cross EMS has notified the Georgia Department of Health that it intends to voluntarily surrender its designation status in Richmond County, effective immediately.
This means that Gold Cross EMS will no longer serve Richmond County with its ambulance service.
The news comes after Gold Cross and city leaders have continually failed to come up with a new contract in a dispute over funding.
Gold Cross will continue to provide ambulance service to Columbia County.
Count on WJBF NewsChannel 6 for updates on this developing story.