DeKalb County canceled its contract with an ambulance company involved in an investigation into slow 911 response times, a county official said.
The county canceled its contract last week with CARE Ambulance, a Montgomery, Ala., company that has provided service to DeKalb County since 2008. The company reported slowly to several incidents, county Public Safety Director William Miller said. Most notably, he said, an ambulance took 22 minutes to reach a soccer field where a 16-year-old player had suffered a concussion.
County dispatchers give the ambulance EMTs the wrong address twice, leading the EMTs to open a laptop computer and look up the address online. Miller said the ambulance should have contacted county dispatchers again for the right address.
The termination, which is effective next month, will lead to 120 layoffs, CARE Vice President Doug Tisdale said.
“It will completely cut off our operations here,” Tisdale said. “We were very caught off-guard, and we’re disappointed in the actions of the county.”
The county did not supply CARE Ambulance with any reasons for the contract cancellation, which was dated May 28, Tisdale said. The county will not discuss details of the termination until its investigation into response times is complete, county spokeswoman Sheila Edwards said.
Tisdale said he has asked to meet with Miller, or other county officials but has not received word back. Edwards said she could not say when the investigation would finish.
The county will use another company temporarily once its relationship with CARE Ambulance is severed, she said. Then the county will begin its search for another emergency service company.
CARE Ambulance signed a three-year contract with the option for two, year-long extensions with the county in March 2008, Tisdale said. The contract did not charge the county because the company only charges the patients who end up requiring ambulance service, he said. Though the contract asked CARE to operate five ambulances in the county, Tisdale said his company added four more roughly a year and a half ago.
The contract only required the county to give 30 days notice if chose to sever the agreement, Edwards said.
Tisdale has denied the county’s claims and said the issues were within the county’s dispatching system.