Council approves franchise ambulance ordinance

Georgetown City Council unanimously approved an ordinance May 26 to regulate which outside ambulance services, such as Acadian or American Medical Response, can operate within the city limits.

The council voted 6-0 on the second reading of the ordinance. Council Member John Hesser was not at the meeting.

The ordinance also establishes standards for companies operating nonemergency ambulance services in the city. To operate in the city each service provider must obtain a license.

“The [primary] role of the franchisee is to provide nonemergency services in the city,” Fire Chief John Sullivan said, adding that during some emergencies the franchisees could be asked to assist the department.

Council Member Steve Fought said he disagreed with language in the ordinance that would require franchisees to seek permission from the city before transporting patients in an emergency situation.

However, Sullivan said the ordinance’s intent was to have a better understanding of what happens in the 911 system.

“We want to make sure there are no calls that bypass the system,” he said.

Fought proposed changing the wording to say franchised providers must make a reasonable attempt to contact the city before providing care in an emergency situation. Council members voted 3-3 on the motion with Council Members Anna Eby, Keith Brainard and Fought in favor. Mayor Dale Ross voted in favor of the amendment to break the tie.

“In this particular scenario the patient could wait literally forever if the communication system was down or for a long time if permission were denied,” Fought said to the council. “I’m more than a bit concerned about this. There are very few subjects that come before the council which are life and death. This one is.”


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