The Florence City Council agenda for tomorow night's meeting includes a proposal to award a contract for ambulance service to Shoals Ambulance Inc.
Shoals Ambulance Inc. and Lauderdale EMS, Inc. were the only two bidders for this contract. The bidders offered to provide services in four classifications as discussed below:
The bids were as follows, with bids for Shoals Ambulance Inc. shown in red and those for Lauderdale EMS shown in blue, in each case the higher bid being shown first, with the differences in bid amounts in parentheses:
For advance life support (ALS) non-emergency calls, $490/$290 ($200);
For ALS emergency calls, $595/450 ($145);
For basic life support calls, $400/244 ($156);
and for specialty care calls, $700/$600 ($100).
For those who have not fully mastered their numbers and colors, the story is just this: in every category of service the losing bidder, Lauderdale EMS, had the low bid.
Of course factors other than these costs are considered in the recommendation to award the contract to Shoals Ambulance Inc. These include specifications for equipment, staffing, location of ambulances, the number of ambulances proposed for the coverage area as well as response time.
One has to wonder, however, to what extent the bid award proposal was influenced by current tense and rancorous conflict among local governments concerning the proposed construction of a regional health care facility in Florence. The Helen Keller/Huntsville Hospital system is formally opposing the granting of a proposed certificate of need for the proposed new facility and an associated cancer treatment center. Local government officials in Florence and Lauderdale County have publicly questioned whether governments on the Lauderdale County side of the river should continue to do business with an emergency ambulance service (Lauderdale EMS) that is associated with those who are opposing "our" new hospital.
Following the successful landing of the RSA project and the mile-long whatzitgonnabenow former Alabama Rail Car project in Barton, much has been said and written about how glorious it is for the four cities and two counties to eschew partisan strife and work together for the good of the Shoals, walking hand-in-hand down the proverbial yellow brick road, with a shared vision and common purpose, looking only to the greater good for all of us. Are cracks and potholes now developing in that yellow brick road?
The citizenry should expect a rather thorough discussion at tomorrow night's council meeting, a discussion that will explain just which of the non-monetary factors of the two bids were deemed sufficiently persuasive to offset the very large differences in the dollar amounts proposed for the four vategories of service. A vote with no discussion will be properly regarded with considerable skepticism.