MARY MEAUX — Ambulance talks of major importance to residents of Port Arthur
Published 12:16 am Thursday, July 27, 2023
Transparency is a word Port Arthur Fire Chief Greg Benson used several times when talking about the process toward hiring one or more medical transport companies.
Benson has led several talks on the issue of ambulance service, the most recent being this month, where he discussed the types of medical transport companies — private EMS transport, fire-based EMS and third party staffing. The city currently uses Acadian Ambulance, which is a private company.
Benson said there is interest among firefighters in expanding their medical training to advanced EMT or paramedic.
“But that takes time,” he said.
Approximately 95 percent of calls to 9-1-1 are EMS-related calls, and the fire department is the first one on the scene.
Ambulance companies do more than work emergencies, they also transport patients from hospital to hospital or other locations, and this is also an important factor when checking qualifications.
Other factors of importance include response time, risk assessment and resource deployment. Training, and certification also play into the upcoming decision.
City leaders visited the idea of adding a second ambulance service in 2018 and opted, at the advice of then fire chief Larry Richard, to stay with Acadian, which had been the sole provider since 2010.
At that time a second company was seeking to work in Port Arthur.
While the City gave Acadian a 60-day extension on its contract, Benson hopes to have a recommendation to present to city leaders before the extension is up.
“We are doing some additional background checking on both Acadian and City Ambulance,” he said. “We will try to get as much information as possible to present to Council so they can make the most informed decision possible in whichever direction they want to go.”
Benson said he and City Manager Ron Burton concur on being transparent in this process.
As for the number of ambulance companies, that is up to council to decide.
“We are not limited to one entity, they could go with both. Whoever is chosen, or if both are chosen, they need to be held accountable to the benchmarks we established,” he said.
In April the city opened applications to ambulance services seeking a permit to operate in city limits. This came after the fire department’s medical group met and made recommendations for improving emergency services.
In June, Acadian and City Ambulance Service made proposals to the City Council.
Mary Meaux is a news reporter at The Port Arthur News. She can be reached at email@example.com.