Liberty County commissioners on Friday, Dec. 4, voted to end a longstanding contract for ambulance service with Liberty County EMS and hire Allegiance Mobile Health to take over operations effective immediately.
County Judge Jay Knight claims Liberty County EMS was in breach of its contract for having only two ambulances to serve the unincorporated areas of the county while the agreement was for three ambulances. The recent reduction in ambulances is the result of funding shortfalls that Director Mike Koen explained in a special meeting in November.
Knight said that Liberty County has agreed to pay Allegiance Mobile Health $70,000 a month to provide five ambulances with basic medical service and one with advanced life support, and a chase vehicle manned by a supervisor who typically can respond quicker than an ambulance and provide advanced life support until an ambulance arrives. Liberty County EMS was being paid $77,000 per month by the county.
“Allegiance will have three ambulances on the east side of the county and three on the west side,” Knight said.
The exact locations where Allegiance will be stationed throughout the county will be determined by Friday evening, but Knight said the locations will be in the communities of Westlake, Plum Grove, Tarkington, Devers, Hardin and Daisetta. The cities of Liberty, Dayton and Cleveland have their own contracts for ambulance service.
“We are going to keep it on a month-by-month basis until we can evaluate things and see where we are. The timeliness of the situation was kicking our rears. We had to do something to make sure the whole county was covered,” said Knight. “We consider Mike [Koen] and all the Liberty County EMS folks part of our Liberty County family, so this was not an easy thing to do. No one on commissioners court wanted to do this. In regard to public safety, we had no choice.”
Knowing that Liberty County EMS was struggling financially and unable to keep a third ambulance in rotation without more money from the county, commissioners recently voted to request proposals for ambulance service with the cut-off date set for Dec. 14.
Knight said commissioners will review those proposals and consider the possibility of taking over operations of Liberty County EMS, an idea that was floated by Koen during that November meeting.
“In medical terminology, we’ve just put a tourniquet on this and the bleeding has stopped for now, but we still have a surgery ahead,” Knight said.