Acadian, Port Arthur Council continue talks; city seeking second ambulance service

Published 8:18 pm Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Earlier this month City Ambulance became the sole medical transport service for the city of Port Arthur after Acadian Ambulance opted not to renew their contract with the city.

A deadline of Nov. 10 came and went without a new contract signed by Acadian and on Monday, James Mercer with Acadian addressed City Council with three items he felt needed to be clarified by the city. They include the timing of the response zone rotation, sequestration of ambulances and response times with fines associated with the contract.

Acadian has operated in the city for 17 years and has been the sole 911 provider for the past 13 years, Mercer said.

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Mercer said the issue of sequestration of ambulances makes sense when there is a single provider so the city would be protected but wanted clarification on what might trigger the clause I the contract to go into effect. Should the company leave suddenly, the clause would allow the city to lease five ambulances from the company in order to continue service to the residents.

Councilman Donald Frank said City Ambulance signed the same contact with the same clause and wondered why Acadian felt difficulty signing this now.

“Ambulances are at a premium. And so it’s difficult for us to leave units behind but more important to that is  not having a clear understanding of what may trigger that clause,” Mercer said. “And so I think for us, it’s less about the five ambulances and more about under what circumstances might the city feel it appropriate to enact that, that position.”

But, Frank said, this has been in the contact for the past 13 years that Acadian has been sole provider and it has never been triggered or came close to being triggered.

Frank said the council is also aware of the fact Sabine Pass is on the outer fringes of the city in respects to response times. The city is working with the Texas Department of Transportation in hopes of fixing the traffic problem.

“We know it can be congested, and I would not — and I’m speaking as a councilman, I would not be opposed to anything that might be done to keep you or any service from being penalized because of what happens and transpires in Sabine Pass,” Frank said. “It can take you 20 minutes to get to Sabine Pass, or it can take you an hour to get to Sabine Pass and that needs to be fixed but that’s not a problem that the ambulance service is responsible for.”

Councilman Harold Doucet stated the issue in a matter-of-fact tone, saying the council felt Acadian’s concerns were some that were addressed in previous discussions.

“We have one contract. The contract that we have is for any ambulance service who can serve the city of Port Arthur,” Doucet said. “Do you accept the contract as written and if you don’t accept the contract as written you don’t have to serve in the city. It’s not that we’re going to kill any contract for any ambulance service. There are things that are in the contract that we expect both services to abide by.”

No action was taken at the meeting following Mercer’s presentation.

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.

The city is set to send out Requests for Proposals to seek a second ambulance service and Acadian can apply again.