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Police jury rejects ambulance proposal

Ruston Fire Department contract expires at year’s end
Thursday, July 14, 2022
Police jury rejects ambulance proposal

The fate of ambulance and rescue services in Lincoln Parish is still up in the air after the police jury on Tuesday rejected an offer from the city of Ruston to extend the Ruston Fire Department’s parishwide coverage through 2023.

Last week the Ambulance Service Committee passed a recommendation that the jury agree to a one-year $645,604 contract with Ruston to extend emergency medical and rescue services, which are set to expire at the end of 2022, for another calendar year.

The jury formed this committee in February and tasked it with investigating a long-term solution for these services. The panel proposed the oneyear deal in order to “get more time” to find a permanent option and how to pay for it.

But jurors voted 6-3 to reject that recommendation Tuesday, leaving EMS and rescue services unsecured past 2022, for now.

Voting against the proposal were Theresa Wyatt, Hazel Hunter, Richard Durrett, Glenn Scriber, Milton Melton and Sharyon Mayfield. T.J. Cranford, Logan Hunt and Matt Pullin voted in favor.

Scriber questioned the roughly 437% price increase from the $120,000 the jury paid the city to extend the services to 2022.

“If that happened to us as individuals or a business, we’re going to turn up every stone,” he said. “Without us seeking every possible service available out there, have we done the parish justice? I don’t think we’ve done that.”

Now the onus falls back to the ambulance committee to communicate with providers and bring another proposal to the jury before Ruston ceases covering the parish at the end of 2022.

The RFD is the only provider in the area that has told the committee they’re willing to perform both EMS and rescue. It’s also the only agency equipped to do so.

After initially saying it wasn’t interested providing ambulance service, Pafford EMS recently offered to station one dedicated advance life support ambulance in the parish 24/7 for $360,000 annually for five years.

The Lincoln Parish Fire Protection District No. 1 has expressed interest in providing rescue service but has yet to produce a cost estimate.

Pullin said he agreed the committee should investigate every option but said the one-year proposal was necessary to get that done.

“This is the fix to where we can do our homework and get it right for the people, for the long term,” he said. “Yes it’s expensive, but based on what I’ve seen it’s going to cost that, no matter what direction we go. We need to get those numbers in line over the next year, not drag our feet like we have over the past six months.”

The jury created the ambulance committee on Feb. 8 and gave it a June 30 deadline to submit a recommendation.

Its first meeting was in April.

Before this year, the jury had paid Ruston $30,000 for EMS and rescue services for nearly 30 years with no increase.

The city estimates it costs about a million dollars more than that to provide those services to the parish each year, and officials aren’t willing to do that anymore.

Ruston originally offered to continue providing service to the parish at $120,000 yearly plus an annual 5% increase.

But that proposal didn’t make it to a jury meeting before the city pulled the offer.

“Why was the jury as a whole not allowed to vote, or why was that not placed before the jury as a whole — the $120,000 plus 5% for these same exact services?” Hunt asked Durrett, the jury’s president.

“I can’t answer that,” Durrett replied.

The ambulance committee will take its first crack at finding a new proposal at its next meeting on July 20.