Ambulance debate divides Augusta commissioners

AUGUSTA, Ga (WJBF) – Commissioner Sammie Sias let the Region VI EMS council know that Augusta has problems with its ambulance service, reading a letter from the Mayor that sited several issues.

Commissioner Marion Williams wanted to know who Authorized Sias to do that.

“They’re just out of control, it’s been a witch hunt I think from the beginning, I’m very disappointed in the commissioners who went to that meeting,” said Commissioner Marion Williams.

Augusta’s Fire Chief was at the meeting, he’s chairman of Council 6, and he says the letter was turned over to the zoning subcommittee that will recommend to the full council whether the ambulance zone should be open for others to apply.

“Everything was proper all the rules were followed by the regional council and the state of rules how things are to be conducted,” said Fire Chief Chris James.

Augusta commissioners voted last month to obtain the zone, and some see no problem with the city getting into the ambulance business.

“Most of the counties in the state of Georgia provide that ambulance service and we could do that and if there’s an overflow well have people on a list,” says Commissioner Andrew Jefferson.

“It maybe a little rough initially but overall the system would provide I believe for a better service to the community,” says Commissioner Dennis Williams.

‘You would like to see the fire department become the ambulance provider?’

“I believe so yes,” said Williams.

“We couldn’t afford in the budget last year how can we afford millions of dollars in ambulances just to maintain them,” says Commissioner Wayne Guilfoyle.

“If the system changes we would expect the fire department along with other providers would provide service,” said Fire Chief James.

Things got so tense during the debate on this issue between Marion Williams and Commissioner Sammie Sias that the deputy Marshal at the meeting moved down to the front of the Chambers.

It will be a while before Augusta knows about the status of the ambulance zone. It will be 90 days before a recommendation is made to the full EMS council whether the zone should be open.

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