HOUSTON – The Chickasaw County Board of Supervisors made the decision during their meeting on Nov. 17, to contract with Shoals Priority/Baptist Ambulance Service.

Shoals is provided through Baptist, and will have two ambulances in the county. One stationed in Houston and the other in Okolona, as was the arrangement with the previous provider as well.

The contract is for a period of five years, beginning Dec. 1, 2020, and running through Dec. 1, 2025.

The total cost of the contract is $120,000.

Previously, the county has been contracted with CareMed ambulance services.

However, many, including emergency personnel, have voiced their dissatisfaction with the services being provided to the county in the past, prompting them to look elsewhere when considering whether or not to renew the current contract. The main concern voiced in the past has been ambulances being unavailable many times, and having to try and get ambulances from another county.

Chickasaw County Fire Coordinator Jonathan Blankenship said that he looks forward to the new service, and he hopes it will be a good fit for the county.

“First, I appreciate CareMed working with Chickasaw County for the last several years,” said Blankenship. “I look forward to working with Baptist/Priority Ambulance. We expect the new company will likely keep many of the current ambulance employees that everyone is used to seeing and working with. Baptist is a large company and will have the resources to serve Chickasaw County well.”

CareMed submitted a proposal to the board earlier this year, however, at the meeting on Nov. 17, the submitted a formal letter withdrawing their proposal from consideration.

According to County Administrator Norman Griffin, Jr., when presenting the board with the letter, CareMed has stated that they will help to make the transition smooth for whoever the board chose as their successor.

In the contract for services, the language seeks to remedy some of the previous problems that the county had faced.

“Operator shall maintain two ALS ambulances in Chickasaw County at all times to respond to emergency calls in the county 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. County acknowledges that some calls will require Operator's ambulances to transport patients to facilities outside the county, and there will be times there are fewer than two staffed ALS units located in the county at a particular point in time.”

The board hopes to see great success with the new service providers.

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