Action Alert: We’re Worried About For-Profit 911 EMS


It’s time to tell our local hospitals we want reliable emergency medical services!

a hand holding a phone

If you’ve been following our stories, you know that 911 emergency medical services in Athens and Oconee County are provided by National EMS, a private, for-profit company. Adding a profit motive to this vital public service can lead to the abandonment of required coverage zones to run more lucrative non-emergency transports. The Athens-Clarke and Oconee governments subsidize National, with $100,000 each, but our two hospitals hold the actual contract, and they need to hear from you.

Call:

Avery McLean (St. Mary’s Hospital): (706) 389-3890 or amclean@stmarysathens.org

Sydney Walker (Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center): (229) 561-4163 or sydney.walker@piedmont.org

National EMS is required to meet certain response-time standards by its contract. It’s not even close to meeting those times. It’s also not transparent, even though it receives significant public funds. We had to file an open records request to get National’s numbers, and although it has an oversight committee, the meetings of that committee aren’t announced or open to the public. When people call 911 here, they have to explain their emergency twice — once to the Athens-Clarke County dispatcher and again when the call is handed off to National EMS. This is confusing, inefficient and extremely dangerous. National EMS refuses to establish a separate division for running 911 calls, choosing to put profit over public safety.

Piedmont’s public statement on National EMS reads:

“Piedmont Athens Regional is a member of a committee composed of county commissioners and other community representatives who review National EMS response times on a bimonthly basis. In addition to response times, that review includes other performance factors, such as the priority of calls, patient outcomes and EMS staffing. Based on that regular review, Piedmont Athens Regional is pleased with the quality performance of National EMS.”

Is that good enough for you?

Personalized calls are more effective than multiple calls reading the same script, so express your personal feelings frankly! Here is an example script that you can build off of or use:

Hello,

My name is [NAME], calling from [CITY]. I’ve seen some stories recently about National EMS, the private for-profit ambulance service that both Athens hospitals contract with to provide emergency 911 service, and I am very concerned. National is required to meet a certain standard of timeliness, and it seems like they are not even close to doing so. Their meetings are not open to the public, and they are not very transparent about their times and failings. I believe EMS is a public health service and should not be run for profit because it encourages companies to send their ambulances where they can make more money instead of where they are most needed. Can you tell me what, if anything, you plan to do to address these concerns?

Please call your hospitals TODAY.

TELL THEM: Reliable EMS is a public health issue!

Thanks for caring,

Legislative Action Network
Athens for Everyone

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