Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

Committee member, police jurors want Ruston back at ambulance table

Sunday, August 28, 2022
Article Image Alt Text

A member of the parishwide Ambulance Service Committee plans to ask Ruston officials to come back to the negotiating table for rural emergency medical and rescue service.

Dr. Jackie White said Friday she’ll talk informally with city representatives, as well as those from the Lincoln Parish Fire Protection District, and bring a report to the committee’s Sept. 8 meeting.

The committee is charged with making recommendations to the Lincoln Parish Police Jury for ambulance and rescue service when the parish’s existing contract with the city expires Jan. 1.

As of now, the committee has only two proposals for 2023: a $360,000 offer from Pafford EMS for ambulance service and a $ 643,000 proposal from the Lincoln Parish Fire Protection District.

Though Ruston was in the mix early on with a $645,604 annual proposal for both ambulance and rescue, the jury voted down the offer in July. At that time, the fire district had not released its cost estimate.

But now that the jury appears to be looking at a $1 million bill for 2023, White and at least two jurors — both of whom voted against the city’s offer in July — said they want to talk to Ruston again.

“It would have been nice before we asked the police jury to vote on (the city’s proposal) if they would have known these costs,” White said.

She said jurors are now “getting ripped apart” for their action, but at the time they didn’t know the cost of the alternatives.

District 6 police juror Glenn Scriber said he, too, wants to talk to the city again.

“We have information now,” Scriber told the committee.

He said since July he’s “immersed myself and educated myself” on ambulance and rescue.

“Before that I didn’t,” he said. “I agree with what (District 11 juror Sharyon Mayfield) said about at least talking to the city of Ruston again. We owe it to ourselves, folks. If that is a closed door, we can say hey, it ain’t going to happen, let’s move on.”

When committee Chairman Charlie Edwards started to discuss the next agenda item, White sought to go back to Scriber’s suggestion.

“ Can I make a motion about that, or can I comment about whether we’re going to go there or not?” she asked. “I would like to make a proposal that several of us meet. I’d love to invite the fire chief of the city, I’d love to invite (parish homeland security director) Kip Franklin… let us come up with something. If you guys vote it down, you vote it down, but I think our parishioners need to see that.

“I think it’s a good gesture. But if nothing comes from it, nothing comes from it,” White said.

Lewis Jones, the jury’s legal counsel, said a motion was out of order because there was no agenda item specifically about resuming talks with the city.

That’s when White said she would informally visit with the city herself.

Earlier in the approximately 30-minute meeting, White asked if the committee was going to vote to accept the fire district’s proposal.

“We have taken the Pafford contract… we picked it apart. To be fair to our parishioners, we need to do the same thing to the fire department budget,” she said.

She said the equipment portion of the proposal seemed duplicative of equipment the Ruston Fire Department has.

“A lot of it’s logistics,” fire district board President Richard Aillet said. The trucks need to carry the rescue equipment and not depend on getting it from another agency in an emergency, he said.

“We need to have it at our fingertips,” he said.

The committee also learned Friday the Pafford dispatch system will not interface directly with the existing Lincoln Parish 911 system.

That means the parish will have to add a one-touch button to the 911 dispatch console that will transfer calls straight to Pafford, committee member Mike Rainwater said. Rainwater is also a member of the Lincoln Parish Communications District.

But the system may make response a little slower because without the automatic data transfer, Pafford dispatchers will have to ask callers many of the same questions that local dispatchers have already asked, Rainwater said.

Caleb Daniel contributed to this report.