City Council examining response reports of Acadian Ambulance in Port Arthur

Published 12:08 am Tuesday, January 9, 2024

In the time frame from Nov. 19 to Dec. 19, Acadian Ambulance Service had zero units available for the residents of Port Arthur.

For the same time period City Ambulance was at “Level Zero” four times, Port Arthur Fire Chief Greg Benson told councilmembers Monday.

In addition, Acadian does not have any ambulance units dedicated to Port Arthur and they were not a permitted 911 provider for the month of November.

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Councilman Thomas Kinlaw III requested Acadian present data from September to November as well as other updates.

Acadian representatives Jay Lewis, Eric Thibodeaux and Jason Mercer addressed city leaders, first explaining they planned on providing the data for September and October but had an error in tabulation and some of the previously reported data was incorrect.

“We’re working to resolve it now,” Mercer said.

Kinlaw asked the Acadian representatives to explain the Level Zeros and how this could occur.

“Level Zero is when you don’t have an ambulance immediately available,” Jay Lewis said. “It is a common thing. It should not be an acceptable thing. It does happen in every city in America. That doesn’t make it right. There are, I think, ways to mitigate that as we’ve discussed, options that can be considered.”

Kinlaw said council members decided to go to two ambulance services because they thought it was in the best interest of the city.

Kinlaw also said he didn’t believe all of the self-reporting information he’s received from Acadian.

“If we expect something to be different, we’ve got to expect different changes. This was one of these type of conversations that I wanted to have with the management team,” Kinlaw said, adding he wants both companies to work out and benefit the City of Port Arthur.

Councilman Harold Doucet expressed disappointment at Acadian’s performance, especially since the City gave Acadian extra time to work on a contract.

“I can’t believe I’m here, when we waited for you all to sign a contract. We thought we were going to have the same type of service you were providing us when you were the only one here. That’s what I thought,” Doucet said.

Benson said there are some questions emerging from the self-reporting aspect, as well as an incident that occurred Sept. 1 regarding a cardiac arrest.

City Attorney Valecia Tizeno stopped Benson to remind Council of HIPAA laws and not releasing specific medical information on an individual, so Benson kept it short, saying there was an approximate 35-minute response time but the September report data from Acadian showed a less than six-minute response.

The difference in response times could be an error in reporting, he said, but it all goes back to making sure they are providing the best level of services to residents.

Acadian operated in the city for 17 years and was the sole 911 provider for the past 13 years, but last year city leaders opted to bring in a second ambulance service.

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, and then a Nov. 10 deadline came and went without Acadian signing a new contract; their representatives saying they needed clarification on some items.

The current contract was signed Dec. 4 and is valid through Nov. 30, 2024.