What DeKalb County called a Stakeholders Workshop on emergency medical services last week essentially became a discussion of Dunwoody vs. DeKalb. The only elected officials present from the county’s cities were Mayor Denis Shortal and Councilor Terry Nall of Dunwoody.
The Dunwoody representatives were able to present to county officials its list of service enhancements for ambulance service and to learn from
county officials and the county EMS consultant that some immediate
changes haven’t been implemented.
The meeting came at the order of the Region III EMS council and its subcommittee that had been considering Dunwoody’s declaration of an EMS Emergency. The full Region III council is scheduled to take top up the DeKalb issue at a meeting Nov. 8.
Dunwoody had a tentative agreement with DeKalb to station two 24-hour ambulances in the city. That still hasn’t happened.
The EMS subcommittee also had told DeKalb it must follow state law and have mutual aid agreements with other ambulance providers. Dunwoody, for instance, shares 65 percent of its borders with Sandy Springs.
Most of last week’s meeting was taken by the county’s ambulance service consultant. He began by apologizing for his earlier comment that “response
times don’t matter.”
He went to explain what the county’s goals are for the bidding process on obtaining a new contract. The county agreement with American Medical Response expires at the end of the year. The consultant said one goal was to
make ambulance service a neutral or even profitable deal.
That prompted an angry response from Nall. He questioned the consultant for
focusing on revenues instead of response times and patient care and outcomes.
Nall insisted that the basic function of government was public safety, not profit.
Dunwoody is seeking its own state-approved ambulance zone or, at a minimum, that DeKalb be divided into several zones instead of one. Fulton
County is divided into five zones, for example.
Barring announcements in the next two weeks from DeKalb, the matter is likely to come to a head at the Nov. 8 meeting.