Contract signed after Ala. 911 center threatens to stop dispatching

First Response signed the document despite concerns after the 911 director said he would halt emergency calls until it was inked


DECATUR, Ala. — The director of the 911 center threated to stop dispatching emergency calls until a new contract was signed with the city’s only ambulance service, leading to a signature by First Response.

First Response Ambulance Service Director David Childers said he signed it under duress, WHNT.com reports. 

Decatur City Councilman Charles Kirby and the mayor are closely monitoring the situation, and Kirby says the 911 center doesn’t have the authority to refuse to dispatch emergency help when it’s needed.

The standoff stemmed from an annual contract between First Response and the dispatch center that expired last month. Childers said the new contract included an added responsibility of answering calls outside the county, which would put response times over the eight minute goal, and put Decatur residents at risk.

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“In the event we have to operate outside of Decatur, we can deal with that,” he said. “However, if you start collecting several calls in areas you’re not familiar with, then you’re going to slow your response times down in the City of Decatur.”

Ryan Welty, director of the Morgan County 911 Center threatened to stop dispatching ambulances if the contract wasn’t signed by last Friday. No other ambulance service is currently licensed to operate in the city, WHNT.com reports.

“We sent them a letter Tuesday that said they have until midnight Friday to sign the new contract,” Welty said. “I am cautiously optimistic that First Response will execute the contract so there will be no impact to ambulance service in Morgan County this weekend.”

First Response signed the contract on Thursday to avoid putting lives at risk, Childers said. It includes a 60-day grace period and Childers is having his attorneys look at it during that time.

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