BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
LEE COUNTY – Lee County officials will have to go back to the drawing board to find their ambulance service.
American Medical Response officially pulled their offer to provide services to the county for $450,000 per year Wednesday afternoon.
According to Lee County Auditor Denise Fraise, she contacted Wes Harrell, AMR’s National Public Affairs Director to see if they would be a part of a meeting set for Thursday night to review proposals.
“He said, “Well, I was just getting ready to call you. We’ll have a withdrawal letter to you this afternoon.’,” Fraise said.
Upon hearing that AMR was withdrawing their offer of service, Fraise said Lee County Supervisor Chairman Ron Fedler cancelled the Thursday night meeting. That meeting would have also included discussions with Fort Madison and Keokuk fire chiefs, as well as Lee County EMS Ambulance officers.
The board was hoping to hear from the groups in order to make a decision on which way to go to keep ambulance service running.
Supervisor Gary Folluo, who represented the Board of Supervisors on the recommending committee, said he was surprised by the move.
“I was very surprised,” Folluo said. “They have answered questions over and over and over again. And they were very dissatisfied with a comment about ‘if you can’t afford the Cadillac you might have to settle for the Chevrolet’. That really upset them. At the time I did hear from them over that comment.”
Folluo said he was very discouraged with the turn of events considering the amount of time and effort that’s gone into coming up with a recommendation for the board to consider. He said he thought Supervisors would’ve acted on the recommendation during a special meeting held Saturday evening.
“I felt it was a slap in the face. The countless hours and phone calls, adverse and pro, and all the time we’ve put in all day long and most evenings. We made a recommendation, so I don’t know what else they want.”
Lee County Board Chairman Ron Fedler was unavailable for comment.
Fort Madison Fire Chief Joey Herren said he’d still like an opportunity to present the cities’ proposal to the county.
“I texted Denise as soon as I found out and told her I’d like to still present our proposal to the county and I haven’t heard back from her,” Herren said
The cities’ joint proposal would cost the county $1.9 million annually. Herren has said that number seems scary, but the cities would be able to reduce that amount over the years because there are a lot of start up costs involved, and public agencies can get gap funding that isn’t currently available to private services.