Randy Camp

Emergency ambulance service for Walker County could soon be provided by one of three companies.

Commissioner Bebe Heiskell on Thursday, Sept. 10, opened sealed bids from three Georgia-based companies: American Medical Response of Stone Mountain; Puckett EMS of Austell; and Angel EMS. Angel is headquartered in Fort Oglethorpe and has its fleet maintenance facilities just south of Chickamauga.

Fire chief Randy Camp is reviewing the competing offers and expected to make a recommendation to the commissioner sometime this week.

The county has operated its own ambulance service as part of its fire and emergency services department since Jan. 1, 2009, not so much by choice as by necessity. Prior to that date the county — as well as Catoosa and Dade counties — were served by Hutcheson Medical Center’s green and white ambulances.

Then, in October 2008, Hutcheson’s CEO and president Charles Stewart informed the three counties that the hospital would exit the ambulance business on Dec. 31, 2008. During the hectic weeks between the hospital’s announcement and year’s end, Walker County was alone in deciding to form its own ambulance division rather than hire an outside provider.

At the time, chief Camp said the county had considered operating its own ambulances for at least five years.

After a little more than 6½ years, the county will again contract an outside agency for emergency medical transportation services.

Heiskell said that if the bids are acceptable, she could act on Camp’s recommendation as early as Thursday, Sept. 17 — definitely by the following week — which company will be awarded a five-year contract.

Mike O'Neal is assistant editor for the Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga.

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