Rumors surround Mitchell Co. EMS decision

Mitchell County Emergency Medical Service in Baconton, Georgia. / Jessica Fairley

Mitchell County citizens are heated after the county commission made a big decision without their input.

Rumors are flying as to why the Mitchell County Commission voted to privatize Mitchell County's Emergency Management Services (EMS) to Mid Georgia Ambulance, a company out of Macon, Georgia, without public opinion.

"Some people might think there's something shady going on and that's questions that I'd like to have answered. Why was it voted on so quickly? Why did they not take public bids?" says John Beasley, a public safety worker and concerned citizen of Mitchell County.

Not having voters voice their concerns is something that Beasley says is illegal, but commissioners say the public had their input.

"People they elected, they realized and put their faith in them that they can handle the county business without running to the public every time they have to make a decision," says Benjamin Hayward, County Commissioner for Mitchell County District 1.

This decision is causing some to lose their job.

The county EMS Director, Ann Lambâ"Rice, says at this time the Mid Georgia Ambulance is in town taking applications from those currently employed with the Emergency Management Services but she cannot disclose whether or not anyone has been or will be fired.

Several workers did contact a FOX 31 source on Tuesday to confirm that they have received notice that they will be terminated as of May 1st.

Commissioner Hayward does agree that not everyone will be able to keep their job once the company takes over. He says it's up to the company to decide who they will keep on board.

As people lose their jobs locals also believe privatizing the EMS is a risk to public safety, saying the Baconton EMS station will suffer most.

"This station is going to be cut back to 16 hours a day as opposed to 24/7 service," says John Beasley.

In addition to the risk of safety, citizens are also accusing the interim county administrator of shady dealings by being a part of the 'good ole boy system,' which commissioners deny.

There are also speculations that the EMS director's husband works for Mid Georgia Ambulance, but Ann Lamb-Rice says these rumors aren't true because her husband works for the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA).

Beasley says he doesn't know if there's dishonesty amongst officials or whether or not it is best to privatize but he believes the way the issue was voted on is wrong.

Commissioner Hayward says Mitchell County could save more than $400,000 a year by privatizing EMS services.

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