Southside Fire takes over EMS service for Chatham County

By Christy Hutchings - bio | email

CHATHAM CO, GA (WTOC) - As of 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Southside Fire is now provising EMS service to all of Chatham County. Medstar is officially gone.

The deal has been in the works for some time, after Memorial University Medical Center lost a bid to Southside Fire to provide EMS service to people living in zones 3 and 4, which is east and west Chatham County. One Memorial lost the bid, the decided to pull out of zone 1, which is downtown Savannah. Financially Memorial officials said it didn't make sense to operate in only one zone.

At 6 a.m., Southside Fire and Memorial entered into a purchase agreement for zone 1 for an undisclosed amount of money.

The question many people wanted answered was whether or not Southside Fire would be able to cover all of Chatham County on their own. Southside Fire Chief Wesley Meadows assures they can. In fact, he says there will actually be more ambulances in the county than ever before.

Right now they already have 17, 24-hour ambulances in service, and that doesn't include extra ambulances that come in to cover days and nights.

Southside Fire took their first call Tuesday morning, handling all ambulance calls. Chief Meadows says everything went off without a hitch and he expects that to continue.

"We will give them just as high level of service today as they received yesterday. We have just as highly of trained employees, personnel on the vehicles as they've always had, with the exception of next year. They will be fire trained, EMS trained and security trained," said Chief Meadows.

A total of 86 Medstar employees were hired on with Southside Fire. Meadows says to his knowledge every Medstar employee who went through the interview process was hired.

Southside Fire has acquired the leases for all of Medstar's ambulances in zone 1 as well as their dispatch system and computers.

As for the contract for Zones 3 and 4 with the county, that is not official yet; but Southside has been told that deal will go though on Feb. 11. In the meantime they will be operating like it is a done deal.

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