The Prestonsburg City Council voted against moving forward with a partnership between the city and Lifeguard Ambulance last week.

During a meeting last week, the city council voted to decline a contract proposed by Global Medical Response, the parent company of Lifeguard Ambulance, and voted, instead, to allow the city to move forward with plans to launch its own ambulance service.

The vote came after Council Member Shag Branham asked Fire Department Chief Mike Brown whether the city could run an ambulance service.

“Yesum,” Brown responded.

The vote was unanimous.

Global Medical Response submitted the contract to the Prestonsburg City Council in January, with Elizabeth Janie Ward, regional director, describing it as a “shared services agreement.”

She explained that Lifeguard “basically would lease” the Prestonsburg Fire Department to help Lifeguard respond to 911 calls if the company was not available “to respond in a timely manner.”

She explained that Lifeguard would provide and stock an ambulance for the fire department to use to respond to calls in the city.

She explained that Lifeguard and Prestonsburg would continue to maintain insurance for their own vehicles and Lifeguard will maintain liability insurance on the ambulance it provides the city, while the city could continue to maintain workers compensation insurance for its employees and Lifeguard will maintain medical malpractice insurance. Lifeguard would pay Prestonsburg $1,500 a month, she reported.

In an interview Monday, Prestonsburg Mayor Les Stapleton reported that the contract provided to the city council in January had changed slightly, but those terms were still part of it.

“They have a copy of the latest contract put before us,” Stapleton said. “The entire time we were open and transparent with Lifeguard that we were also looking at trying to get a CON, a Certificate of Need, for the City of Prestonsburg ... and they decided they’d rather go on and try to get a Certificate of Need and have our own ambulance service, as opposed to depending on someone else.”

Prestonsburg filed an application with the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services on Jan. 24, days after receiving the Lifeguard proposal, seeking a Certificate of Need to establish a Class 1 ALS/BLS ambulance service.

The city estimates it will cost $96,000 to launch the service, with most of those funds, $60,000, being designated to buy two ambulances and $30,000 being allotted for equipment.

Prestonsburg has 13 EMTs, four of whom work part time, as well as three full time paramedics and one part time paramedic.

Currently, fire department staff can respond and treat victims of crashes and other emergencies, but they are not permitted to transport those patients to an emergency room for care.

During the meeting, the council also approved the second reading of an ordinance announcing that all meetings will be held at 6 p.m. on the third Monday of each month in 2020 except February, when the meeting was moved to  Feb. 18 due to President’s Day. The ordinance says all meetings will take place at City Hall except the April 20 meeting, which will be held at the Mountain Arts Center.

Council members also approved allowing Stapleton to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Lick Fork Resources, a Lexington company that was registered with the Secretary of State in January 2019 by D.B. Kazee. Stapleton would not disclose the nature of the agreement, claiming the MOU is not public record until it is signed by both parties.

The council also gave Stapleton authority to continue discussions on the “realization on the purchase of property on behalf of the city for the options” they discussed in closed session. Stapleton would not release information about that potential property purchase, but he confirmed that it is not related to the Lick Fork Resources MOU.

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