Bay County Prepares to Control EMS Services

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Bay County is getting into the emergency medical services business. County commissioners voted Tuesday morning to take over EMS and ambulance services from Bay Medical Sacred Heart.

While the vote was unanimous, commissioners had plenty of questions before taking the plunge, but ultimately the commissioners seem excited about the decision.

"I think it's gonna be a big plus for Bay County," said commissioner George Gainer. "I think it's gonna be a service we'll all be proud of and glad that Bay County is doing it."

However, some don't share the enthusiasm. Bay County Clerk of Court, Bill Kinsaul, pointed out that other counties making the same move have ended up losing money.

"35 counties responded that they have county run EMS," he said during the meeting, "35 counties subsidized their EMS."

But commissioners are choosing to believe the information provided by their outside consultants at Fitch & Associates, LLC who say the move is one that will be financially stable and at the very least will allow the county to break even, but in best case scenarios could see them making hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"We choose in Bay County for it to pay for itself," said commissioner Mike Thomas, "a lot of counties do have free ambulance or tax subsidized ambulance service. So far the way it's set up now, an ambulance ride is expensive, but the people that use it pay for it, the people that don't aren't taxed for it."

The county officially takes over EMS service on July 1st.

All of the current EMS employees will keep their jobs, commissioners say if the service loses money, they can bid it out to a private company.