$132K fee cut JC ambulance subsidy lifted

Metro Ambulance agrees to end charge

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JOHNS CREEK, Ga. – A $132,000 annual subsidy paid by the North Fulton cities to ensure prompt emergency medical service responses from Rural Metro Ambulance will end June 30 by mutual agreement among all parties.

The Johns Creek City Council voted unanimously June 3 to end the subsidy agreement, which the other five North Fulton cities have also done. Rural Metro agreed to the measure as a good faith gesture as the new ambulance contract continues to be negotiated.

The subsidy was paid in exchange for Rural Metro’s enhanced response performance. Metro had agreed to answer emergency calls in eight minutes or less 90 percent of the time. But in the intervening five years, North Fulton has experienced both population growth and increased traffic congestion.

Metro is not the first responder to accidents and other emergencies. Its job is to arrive in a timely fashion after the city’s EMS personnel – who are responsible for first response – have stabilized anyone in need of transport.

Rural Metro Division General Manager Ken Simpson said the company is voluntarily agreeing to end the stipend now while a new EMS contract is thrashed out with the North Fulton cities. The contract will stipulate a 12-minute response time, which all parties agree is more realistic given the continued growth and traffic congestion.

Johns Creek Fire Chief Jeff Hogan said the negotiations are going well.

“I’ve been very happy with the outcomes so far,” Hogan said. “I think the other cities will be served as well, if not better.”

It all comes down to Rural Metro’s posting plan – that is how it will distribute its ambulances throughout North Fulton to cover the needs of Johns Creek, Roswell, Mountain Park, Milton and Alpharetta.

For now, Metro is posting two ambulances in Johns Creek, which has had the effect of bringing down response times to the eight-minute goal. But that will change when the actual contract is renegotiated.

“Posting two dedicated ambulances in Johns Creek is not going to be realistic,” Hogan said.

However, Johns Creek has been promised a 24-hour dedicated ambulance as part of the new agreement. Meanwhile, officials say progress is being made on the new contract, but it takes time.

“I would not say we are within 90 days of an agreement, but I don’t think it will take much more than that,” Hogan said. “We have a good relationship with [Metro]. We’ve always been able to work through the issues.”