As the Cherokee County Communications District there are a lot of things the Communications District is responsible for. There are a lot of decisions that have to be made. Unfortunately, some of those decisions are not popular, but all decisions made out of this office are with the best interest of the citizens and visitors’ in mind.
Our role began when the Cherokee County Communications District Chairman was notified by management of Cherokee EMS on Monday afternoon, August 27, 2018 that Cherokee EMS would cease operations on September 30, 2018 at midnight. We heard rumors that Cherokee EMS had meetings with their employees and told them they would be closing at the end of September but we were not given official notice until August 27th.
Through social media the question has arose several times of, “why does EMA or 911 have anything to do with determining which Ambulance service operates in Cherokee County?” The answer to that question is very simple. It’s state law. That law can be found in its entirety under Section 11-98-4. However, I have taken the part that applies to this process so it can be published for public knowledge.
The law states: (f) In addition to other authority and powers necessary to establish, operate, maintain, and replace an emergency communication system, the board of commissioners shall have the following authority:
(6) To enter into contracts or agreements with public or private safety agencies for dispatch services when such terms, conditions, and charges are mutually agreed upon, unless otherwise provided by local law.
They’re multiple opinions issued by the Alabama Attorney General’s Office that defines this law even more. Those can be found on the Attorney General’s website but once again I will publish one in particular that explains in more detail. The opinion provided below:
The powers of the Board of Commissioners of the District are set forth in section 11-98-4 of the Code. ALA. CODE§ 11-98-4 (Supp. 2014). Pursuant to this section, the District has the authority “[t]o enter into contracts or agreements with public or private agencies for dispatch services when such terms, conditions, and charges are mutually agreed upon, unless otherwise provided by local law.” ALA. CODE§ 1 l-98-4(f)(6) (Supp. 2014).
This Office has, on numerous occasions, determined that the authority for determining which ambulance providers receive dispatch calls rests with the board of commissioners of the district. See, e.g., opinion to Honorable Mark D. Ryan, Attorney, Baldwin County Emergency Communications District, dated December 13, 2006, A.G. No. 2007-021. The board of commissioners of the district may also select a single ambulance service to provide all ambulance service within its jurisdiction. Opinion to Honorable Darwin Clark, Chairman, Lawrence County E- 911 Communications Board, dated October 20, 2003, A.G. No. 2004-009.
If the ambulance service is “for profit” and the contract is an exclusive contract, the Board must comply with the Competitive Bid Law to avoid the grant of special privileges as prohibited by section 22 of the Alabama Constitution. Id. E-911 boards should strive to select ambulance service providers that will provide the best, most efficient service to persons within their districts. Id.
With respect to your specific question, this Office has recently determined that section 11-98-4(f)(6) of the Code allows an E-911 district to contract for both emergency and nonemergency services. Opinion to Honorable Jay Murrill, Attorney, Jefferson County 9-1-1 Emergency Communications District, dated January 14, 2014, A.G. No. 2014-039.
As stated in several articles that have been published by local news outlets, Cherokee EMS and Floyd EMS had been in negotiations in an attempt to work out an agreement to keep Cherokee EMS operational but were unable to reach an agreement and Cherokee EMS will cease operations on September 30, 2018 at midnight. As a result, this has led to where we are today. The Cherokee County Communications District, by Alabama Law, has the authority and responsibility to select the best ambulance service provider for the citizens and visitors of Cherokee County moving forward, and that is our intent. There will not be a lapse in EMS coverage for the citizens or visitors during this transition.
The Cherokee County Communications District opted to bid the EMS service out to allow multiple EMS providers the opportunity to submit their proposal to the District. The District will evaluate each proposal and select the best EMS provider for our county. For the residents who live in the southern portion of Cherokee County and are currently being provided EMS service by Piedmont Rescue, your coverage will not be affected as Piedmont continues to provide quality EMS services to those residents.
I want to thank the employees of Cherokee EMS for providing an exceptional and professional service to the citizens and visitors of Cherokee County for the past 18 years. There have been many lives saved due to the incredible EMT’s and Paramedics who have served this county with pride and dedication. Each one of them should be proud of the job they have done.
The Cherokee County Communications District is committed to providing a fair and unbiased process to allow any ambulance service provider to submit a proposal. A total of six bids were sent out. Each proposal will be evaluated by the District and the most responsible and responsive bidder will be selected to provide the best pre-hospital care possible to our citizens and visitors. The new ambulance service is required to begin operations in Cherokee County on October 1, 2018 at 12:00 AM.
Bids were due on Monday September 17, at 9:00 a.m. and were opened at 10:00 a.m. with only two bids being submitted. After the bid evaluation process was complete Redmond EMS achieved a 4 out of 15. Floyd EMS achieved a 15 out of 15. A list of requirements was set out in the request for proposal and both Floyd EMS and Redmond EMS received the Invitation to Bid on the same day. It states in the Invitation to Bid the following:
CCCD (Cherokee County Communications District) will award the bid to the most responsible and responsive bidder. CCCD will be the final authority in determining compliance with specifications. No additions or modification will be allowed after the sealed bids are opened. CCCD reserves the right to reject all bids. Questions concerning the specifications may be directed to Shawn Rogers via email to email@example.com. Bids will be good for sixty (60) days after being opened by CCCD.
Both proposals submitted are open for public viewing and anyone who wishes to view them can do so. The proposals are located in the 911 Business Office which is in the Cherokee County Administrative Complex.
The Cherokee County Communications District is pleased to announced that Floyd EMS has been awarded the bid for Emergency and Non-Emergency Ambulance Service Dispatch within the Unincorporated Area of Cherokee County for a period of five (5) years, (with the exception of the southern portion of Cherokee County that is currently being provided by Piedmont Rescue).
After bid evaluations, it was determined that Floyd EMS was the most responsible and responsive bidder.
Floyd EMS will begin operations in Cherokee County on October 1, 2018 at 12:00 a.m.
John A. Roberts, Chairman
Cherokee County Communications District