New EMS service coming to Bay County

Published: Sep. 20, 2022 at 10:41 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Many would say keeping the people of Bay County safe is a top priority.

“As the population grows, certainly the need grows. As more tourists come to our area, the need grows,” Bay County Commissioner Bill Dozier said.

The need for ambulances in Bay County has seen an uptick since former emergency service First 2 Aid pulled out of the area in July for unknown reasons.

“First 2 Aid, with all of the problems they had, they were very accommodating in helping us with the overflow call,” Bay County EMS Chief.

That’s why on Tuesday morning, county commissioners voted to bring in a new privately owned ambulance service called AmeriPro EMS.

AmeriPro EMS will work in conjunction with Bay County EMS to accommodate the need for the growing population. But on the other hand, the county’s other privately owned ambulance service Lifeguard is said to not be too happy about the new arrival.

Dozier said Lifeguard officials were against this vote because of competition. He said Lifeguard asked commissioners to table the vote.

“So they could have more discussion about it, but there wasn’t any need to table it because we need to move forward to help protect the people of Bay County and emergency services,” said Dozier.

And protecting the people is something Monroe said AmeriPro can assist the county with.

“We’ve reviewed them and they appear to have the capabilities, personnel, and equipment to fulfill the agreement,” said Monroe.

An agreement hoped to accommodate everyone.

A spokesperson for Lifeguard sent a statement to NewsChannel 7 saying:

“Lifeguard supports a competitive market, but our top priority is the safety of our community and meeting the needs of Bay County citizens. Our position to table this vote is rooted in Lifeguard’s desire to help solve system concerns. To date, we are unaware of any opportunities to bring all stakeholders (Bay EMS, Hospitals, Lifeguard and others) to the table together to discuss and attempt to solve any community needs before simply approving yet another provider in the market.

In Lifeguard’s ten years of service to Bay County, several other EMS providers have opened and shuttered services nearly overnight. This business practice creates staffing shortages at the start of their operations due to uncompetitive wage increases and unemployment for local first responders upon the closure of their operations. Additionally, this creates significant challenges for the local EMS system and the community.”

Dozier said the number of ambulances or staff coming in hasn’t been discussed yet, but he expects AmeriPro EMS to be here “soon.” This new service will be free to Bay County tax payers.