They chose to make the switch to Metro Atlanta Ambulance Service for financial reasons as well as the company’s proactive approach to improving response times, Bartow County Commissioner Steve Taylor said.
For instance, the ambulance services keeps vehicles parked at restaurant lots on Ga. 140 in Adairsville during certain hours on specific days of the week.
It's not that the emergency personnel like to take a breakfast or lunch break at the same time every day, but historical data shows they need to be closer to I-75 to get to wrecks which tend to happen more frequently during those hours.
Taylor said he vetted the Cobb County-based emergency medical service for close to six years before deciding earlier this year to cut the county-run service in favor of the privately held firm.
According to Taylor, Bartow is one of the last counties in the state to operate its own EMS unit.
Devan Seabaugh, vice president of administration for Metro Atlanta Ambulance, told Adairsville area business leaders Thursday the county employees were offered the opportunity to join the private firm and that about 75 percent of those employees are coming on board. Most of those who did not join were part-time county employees, Seabaugh said.
The new service will operate six ambulances on a 24-hour basis and have three other ambulances available on 12-hour day shifts to cover Bartow County.
Bartow County Fire Chief Craig Millsap said he and his staff have been working with the Metro Atlanta staff to make the transition as seamless as possible.
After the switchover in October the only change residents of Bartow County should notice is the color of the ambulance and the different color uniforms that are worn by the employees.
North Metro started in Cobb County in May of 2001 with ten employees and two ambulances in Marietta.
Today the company has more than 600 employees spread over 14 counties with a fleet of 130 vehicles. He said that the company has purchased ten new vehicles which will be used in Bartow County.
The company has actually been providing service in Bartow County since 2008.
Each ambulance is equipped with special cardiac care technology which will allow the on-board staff to bypass the ER and go straight to a cardiac cath lab if that is what the situation calls for. Ambulances are also equipped with an advanced automatic CPR compression unit that can do perfect CPR for up to two hours.
"If you've ever done CPR you know how exhausting that is, when you're exhausted you're not doing great CPR,” Seabaugh said. “That machine doesn't care, it does perfect CPR for up to two hours."
The private EMS service also operates its own accredited EMS Academy to keep employees up to date and help develop new medics.
Taylor said the decision to privatize the service was made primarily to improve response time and take advantage of the additional training the metro Atlanta staff receives and the technologies that are available on all Metro ambulances.
The county will not provide any financial subsidy to the private firm which means Bartow will save between $2 million and $2.5 million a year in local tax money that has been earmarked to support the local EMS unit.