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Floyd Co. Commissioners approve AmeriPro for EMS service, reject New Chapel bid

The rear of an ambulance.
The Floyd County Commissioners voted this week to negotiate a contract for EMS service with AmeriPro Health.

The Floyd County Commissioners voted this week to move forward with AmeriPro Health for ambulance services. They also rejected a bid from New Chapel EMS.

The Floyd County Commissioners voted 2-1 this week to start negotiations with AmeriPro Health for ambulance service, ahead of the expiration of the country's current contract with New Chapel EMS at the end of May.

The vote went against the recommendation last week by the Floyd County EMS Advisory Board to reject both bids so county officials could explore fire-based EMS service.

The Floyd County Council will have to approve funding for any contract or service.

The county is currently operating under an extension to a 2017 contract with New Chapel and has paid $220,000 annually since 2019.

Officials started working last year on updating their needs in a new contract. Their request for proposals process was expedited amid the criminal investigation of former New Chapel CEO Jamey Noel, who’s accused of stealing from the nonprofit.

“I wish them well. I hope that they survive this endeavor,” Commissioners President Al Knable said of New Chapel. “But I think they basically disqualified themselves by not bringing forward all of the financial material that was necessary and required during the RFP process.”

New Chapel did not submit information on the financial stability of the organization.

New Chapel CEO and President Matt Owen told the EMS board last month the organization was planning a third-party audit to provide that information.

The options 

AmeriPro proposed two options in its bid — just over $1.5 million for three ambulances and a paramedic response vehicle, and $936,996 for one less ambulance.

“It's not the cheapest solution,” Knable said. “But I think it's a very reasonable price to pay to restore public trust and confidence in a service that has been rocked the last several months by all of these issues that have gone on with former Sheriff Jamey Noel.”

New Chapel’s bid included three ambulances and a paramedic response vehicle, with ambulances to be at advanced EMT status within 18 months. The cost was $960,000 for the first year, increasing to just under $1.02 million in the third year.

Earlier this month, the EMS board broached the option for a fire-based service with the Highlander Fire Protection District.

Georgetown resident Michael Moody noted in public comment that discussions around EMS service in Floyd County have been ongoing for a long time and urged officials to take steps now to ensure the health and safety of residents.

He said talk of fire-based service is “not a complete plan” and recommended the county go with AmeriPro.

“On June 1, there is not a plan in place for EMS service in Floyd County,” he said.“We need to do what’s best for the entire community and we don’t have a lot of time.”

Split vote

The commissioners — Knable, John Schellenberger and Jason Sharp, who chairs the EMS board —were unanimous in their vote to reject New Chapel’s bid.

But they split when it came to which direction to head next.

Schellenberger moved to follow the advice of the EMS advisory board.

He also said he doesn’t think the council will back a three-year contract with AmeriPro, which is what’s outlined in the RFP.

“I don’t have tea leaves, but from listening to two joint meetings, I don’t think they’re going to approve,” Schellenberger said.

County Council member Jim Freiberger told the commissioners in public comment the constituents he’d talked with in Lafayette Township are in favor of a fire-based service. He also advised the commissioners not to go against the EMS board recommendation, saying as a council member he would not vote for funding any service that’s not fire-based.

Knable said that while fire-based EMS has potential, “I do not believe that we can bring everything together that we need to bring together in 65 days.”

Knable proposed putting together a task force to look at fire-based EMS service in the county to see if it’s financially feasible, and to negotiate a 1-2 year contract with AmeriPro in the meantime.

The Floyd County Council will discuss EMS funding at a work session at 5 p.m. Monday.

Coverage of Southern Indiana is funded, in part, by Samtec Inc., the Hazel & Walter T. Bales Foundation, and the Caesars Foundation of Floyd County.

Aprile Rickert is LPM's Southern Indiana reporter. Email Aprile at arickert@lpm.org.

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