Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and the patients that rely on them in Georgia have suffered from conflict of interest, corruption and “corporate cronyism” according to a new group called the Georgia Ambulance Transparency Project (GATP). Right now, they are pushing forward HB 264 in the state legislature, which is an important bill that would:
- Ban ambulance vendors from serving on Department of Public Health hiring councils;
- Require vendors to register with the state ethics commission and ban pay-to-play;
- Require mandatory service reviews to ensure safety; and
- Require that all ambulance service providers meet national safety standards and adhere to best-practices.
Athens for Everyone is proud to join the GATP coalition in the fight for transparency and improved ambulance service statewide. The “corporate cronyism” which always seems to happen when public services are handed to for-profit companies like National EMS (now Priority Ambulance) can have deadly consequences.Take the case of Donna Martin, who died from a wasp sting in Morgan county last year when the National EMS ambulance failed to arrive on time. Athens for Everyone reported last year before this incident occurred that National EMS consistently fails to meet their contractually-required response time standard of under 9 minutes 90% of the time in Athens. We unfortunately do not believe that Donna’s case is isolated or unusual.
We applaud the Georgia Ambulance Transparency Project for their work on securing powerful co-sponsors for HB 264, such as Terry England (R), the chair of the Appropriations committee. This bill has a good chance to pass, but we need to let our representatives know we support it! Ambulance vendors should not be allowed to serve on their own hiring councils.
You can use this script to call or email your representatives, but the most important people to contact right now are:
PK Martin: email@example.com
Jeff Mullis: Jeff.firstname.lastname@example.org
Matt Brass: email@example.com
Sharon Cooper: Sharon.firstname.lastname@example.org
Terry England: email@example.com
Dear Conference Committee Member,
I am writing to ask you to please pass the House version of HB 264 and please do not strip the bill of it’s key provisions on transparency, openness and reporting (as the Senate version did).
This bill is so extremely important to victims of Georgia’s broken EMS system and their families. It is vital that this bill be passed and that it be strong and promote transparency and openness.
Thank you for your service to the conference committee on HB 264 and the legislature.
Please call or email today!
Local EMS Reform
HB 264, while a positive first step, would not be enough to solve the EMS issues that we’re seeing locally. We’ve developed a list of five priorities to fix this situation for Athens.
Briefly, we are asking for all 911 EMS emergency responses to be handled through our public 911 Dispatch Center, for improved transparency on the oversight committee and regarding National’s 31,055 delayed responses in recent years, for National to stop abandoning 911 coverage zones and ultimately for EMS services in Athens to return fully to public hands.
We are hopeful for a positive outcome for HB 264 and for transparency here in Athens as well. With these changes, we believe that unnecessary deaths like Donna Martin’s can be avoided. Until then, stay safe everyone.
Athens for Everyone EMS Initiative
February 25, 2019
As the end of the session approaches, contacting our representatives about HB 264 becomes even more urgent: please call Jeff Mullis (404-656-0057) and your representative TODAY and tell them you support HB 264!