By Stan Welch
Anderson County will be sending out contracts for its EMS providers to review in the next several weeks. Those providers have been operating under the terms of last year’s contract, which has been extended twice, for sixty day periods, as negotiations have continued.
Being handled separately is the selection of a provider or providers to serve the Williamston area. For some time, Medshore equipment and personnel have worked out of the Williamston rescue squad facility, after the squad failed and closed down. But the County Council is now looking for a more formal and permanent solution to the situation.
While any provider in the county can seek the territory, the Pelzer, Medshore and Belton providers would seem to have an advantage. County administrator Rusty Burns points out that the process isn’t really a bid since the county has already set the figure for the providing of the services. “This is more a case of offering one’s qualifications and ability to serve the needs of the area,” said Burns. “The Council has also made it clear that they would consider an arrangement where two squads cooperated to provide the service.”
Burns opined that the size of the territory involved might make it more conducive to a cooperative effort by two units.
Dan Durham, board member of the Pelzer Rescue Squad, said his group is awaiting the specifics of the qualifications that the Council is seeking. “We are certainly prepared to provide a high quality of services and care, as we have in the Pelzer and Powdersville areas for a number of years.” The area would extend the Pelzer squad’s responsibilities from Williamston to Powdersville where they already maintain a facility; a responsibility that they took over when Forrest Thomas was forced to cease operations in that area.
The County Council has also taken steps in recent months to provide protection for the various squads’ non-emergent operations. EMS providers generate the majority of their revenues by their transport of non-emergent patients and clients. Earlier this spring, the council took a preemptive step to protect the county’s providers from outside poaching by non-emergent specialty transporters.
That step was an ordinance that enfranchised local EMS providers, giving them certain protections and preferred status, and made it more troublesome for outside providers to operate.
The ordinance referred specifically to private ambulance services operating within Anderson County for non-emergency patient transport. It establishes the procedures for applying for said franchise; the payment of franchise fees; the period of operation covered by the franchise, as well as numerous other circumstances, such as the denial of a renewed franchise agreement, or the termination of an existing one.
By Stan Welch