Gulfport threatens to void ambulance service deal

Published: Aug. 1, 2016 at 4:59 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 1, 2016 at 5:03 PM CDT
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GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Gulfport has put Harrison County on notice. Either the county opens the bid process so more companies can attempt to become the area's ambulance service provider or Gulfport will negotiate its own ambulance deal.

That warning came from a letter sent by Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes to Harrison County supervisors.

Right now, American Medical Response is in the final five months of a contract to provide ambulance service across Harrison County. That one-year deal was approved last September.

In the letter sent Monday, Gulfport gives Harrison County 60 days notice. It's ready to void the ambulance deal.

"While the City would prefer to continue as a party to the aforementioned Interlocal Cooperation Agreement, we believe it in the best interest of the City of Gulfport not to do so in light of the fact that Requests for Proposals/Qualifications have not been pursued by the County prior to the December 31, 2016 renewal date," Mayor Hewes wrote in a letter dated August 1.

In 2015, WLOX News Now did a public records request to review response times by American Medical Response in Harrison County. One finding from that review was that nobody in Harrison County was checking AMR records and holding the ambulance service accountable. After that report, supervisors said steps would be taken to review AMR response time records.

Last fall, Harrison County supervisors voted to extend its contract with the ambulance service provider for one more year, giving the board that took over January 1, 2016 a chance to negotiate a long term deal, or go a different route.

Gulfport's letter indicates the city is not pleased with Harrison County's decision to limit its ambulance service options to just AMR.

"Should, of course, the County elect to pursue Requests for Proposals/Qualifications concerning ambulance service in Harrison County by August 15, 2016, then this termination notice shall be considered null and void," wrote Mayor Hewes.

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