Bay County Prepares for EMS Takeover

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Bay County officials say they're on track to take over all emergency medical services by the end of this month from Bay Medical Sacred Heart.

On Tuesday, they took more steps to ensure a smooth transition between the two organizations.

Those steps included buying all of the existing equipment for more than a quarter of a million dollars.

Some ambulances may say Bay Medical on them now, but next month it and 13 others will belong to Bay County.

On Tuesday, Bay County commissioners voted to buy all existing EMS equipment and vehicles from Bay Medical Sacred Heart for $300,000.

"I think it will improve the services that we experience now from the ambulance service. I mean they've done a good job up to this point but I think it's time for this change," said Commissioner Guy Tunnell.

Two weeks ago, Bay County commissioners secured a three million dollar line of credit to cover start up costs involved in taking over EMS, including buying nine of the ambulances and leasing a sub-station on Hutchison Beach Boulevard.

The other five ambulances are funded by a grant.

"We've taken advantage over the last two years in planning toward this takeover and so that it will be smooth. This is an area where you don't need a hiccup," said Commissioner George Gainer.

Commissioners also agreed to buy another eight ambulances from Sarasota County for $150,000. It's a deal they say they couldn't refuse.

"We've come out ahead of the game on that. It's major equipment and purchases that we won't have to make down the road for some time," said Tunnell.

Commissioners believe they've avoided some of the roadblocks that could have delayed this takeover.

"Things are falling into place a little bit better than we thought they would. We had some contingencies that we thought, you know, might be a problem, but have not been," said Gainer.

The one thing they say won't be a problem is service. They say it should be a seamless transition for patients.

The county will take over EMS operations on October 1st.