Columbia County keeps Gold Cross, will take over dispatch duties

Published: Jun. 6, 2023 at 2:50 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 7, 2023 at 10:20 AM EDT
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EVANS, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Columbia County commissioners on Tuesday night tossed out the two options on the table and created a third for the future of ambulance service in the county.

They decided to keep Gold Cross as their emergency medical service provider but bring the dispatch operations in house.

It’s a decision both parties say is in the best interest of Gold Cross, Columbia County and those they serve

It’s no change to taxpayers’ wallets. The $850,000 subsidy will stick around, and they will turn over EMS dispatch to Columbia County, which won’t be a huge change since the county is already handling police and fire dispatch.

It’s a decision both parties say is in the best interest of Gold Cross, Columbia County, and most importantly those they serve.

“There were some options that we would either increase or decrease the supplement and if we decrease the supplement, then obviously we would decrease service. We just didn’t feel like that was the best option for our citizens,” said Columbia County Manager Scott Johnson.

On the table were two options. Option one would’ve added an extra $125,000 to the current subsidy and turned dispatch over to the county. Option two would’ve reduced the subsidy by $100,000 under the same provisions as the first option with some shift changes.

“By us taking on that additional duty with the county, that is the savings for Gold Cross and it’s our hope that Gold Cross will be able to invest that money back into the company to be able to enhance the, uh, salaries of the paramedics,” said Johnson.

A third option does just that- giving Gold Cross an opportunity to maximize its resources to better serve the community and its employees.

Vince Brogdon, CEO of Gold Cross EMS, said: “Some of the paramedics got a $3 to $4 an hour raise. EMTs got a $2 to $3 an hour raise, and hopefully, within the next couple of months, we’ll be able to do that again. I do plan to reinvest all of the savings from dispatch back into the company so we can hopefully keep the salaries up higher.

As far as a timeline goes, Columbia County could have EMS dispatch in its hands as soon as two months and as late as six months.

Johnson said: “We are gonna have to add a console in our 911 center, we’re gonna have to make sure that we hire the right personnel that understands how to dispatch EMS unit. That will take some time.”

In the meantime, Columbia County officials say they’ll be focused on preparing to take over dispatch, which includes adding four full-time employees to their team and some part-time as well.