Last updated: June 01. 2013 8:42AM - 630 Views
James Howell
Staff writer

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Ashe County can move forward with advertising a request for proposals (RFP) in search of the county’s next ambulance service provider.

The Ashe County Board of Commissioners approved advertising the RFP for Ashe County’s ambulance contract in a 3-1 vote during last Monday’s BOC meeting, with Commissioner Gerald Price cast the dissenting vote.

Although the current ambulance contract doesn’t expire until June 30, 2014, Gambill said it is important to approve the RFP promptly in order for bidders to look the contract over.

“I want to give anyone interested in giving bids adequate time to do so,” said Gambill.

Gambill reported no companies have bid or asked for more information about the county’s ambulance contract so far, leading Gambill to ask if the board if they were ready to advertise the RFP.

“Should Patty start advertising?” asked Ashe County Manager Dr. Pat Mitchell to the BOC.

Legally, the county is only required to advertise the contract locally, but Price said he believes advertising for the RFP should extend beyond the local media.

“We should find some kind of network to shoot it all over the nation,” said Price. He also said advertising should be done “whole-heartedly and not partially.”

Discussions about advertising the RFP will resume at the next BOC meeting.

According to Gambill, Ashe, Watauga and Hoke counties are the only counties that use a solely privatized emergency transportation system. Mecklenburg County also uses a private system, but it functions differently that Ashe County’s system.

“There are a hundred counties and lots of different ways they are organized (in emergency transportation),” said Gambill.

Because so many counties operate their own emergency transportation service, only a few private contractors are available to bid for Ashe County’s contract.

Gambill said Blue Ridge Medical Transportation, the county’s current ambulance provider, was the only contractor that showed consistent interest when Ashe County placed the contract up for bid in 2002 and 2008, besides one other contractor.

The new contract will last from June 30, 2014 through June 30, 2020. Proposals will be received by the county manager’s office before 2 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 20, 2013, when the proposals will be opened and reviewed by the county manager and emergency management coordinator.

All bidders must furnish to the county, upon request, evidence they are a responsible bidder. The county reserves the right to reject any or all proposals, and the contract will be awarded to the contractor based on the information provided in their proposals, according to a document from the Ashe County Courhouse.

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