Alexandria City Council votes down ordinance for multiple ambulance services

The Alexandria City Council has voted down an ordinance that would have allowed multiple ambulance providers to operate in the city.
Published: Oct. 3, 2023 at 4:23 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 3, 2023 at 10:08 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - The Alexandria City Council has voted down an ordinance that would have allowed multiple ambulance providers to operate in the city.

The vote was a narrow 4-3 decision with Councilmembers Cynthia Perry, Gary Johnson and Reddex Washington voting in favor of the new ordinance, while Councilmembers Chuck Fowler, Jim Villard, Lee Rubin and Lizzie Felter voted in opposition.

“Here we are again, having to make a decision as the elected officials of the City of Alexandria and we delay a decision again and pass it off to someone else to make a decision,” said Washington, who proposed the ordinance.

Prior to a vote on the ordinance, a resolution that was added to the council agenda last week, aimed to prevent the council from bringing back up any discussion over the ambulance services until the current contract with Acadian Ambulance expires. That resolution failed which allowed the council to debate the topic once again Tuesday night.

The ordinance was written to provide more competition for Acadian Ambulance which has served as the sole ambulance provider in all of Rapides Parish for emergency and non-emergency services for nearly three decades. The City of Alexandria currently abides by the contract that the Rapides Parish Police Jury has with Acadian that is not set to expire until October 2024.

Council President Lee Rubin was one of the four “no” votes against the ordinance. He cited his reasoning for not approving it as not wanting to get caught in a legal battle over breaking a pre-existing contract.

“If I was on the other side of this, I would have filed suit in the New York Second,” said Rubin. “They would have had every right to sue us if we broke the contract.”

In addition, Alexandria’s city attorney advised the council that passing the ordinance would violate the city charter.

While the debate has not been centered over the quality of service provided by Acadian over the last 28 years in Alexandria, it has been on whether bringing in more services would better improve coverage and response times.”

“If my mom or dad needed a service provider to come to them, as long as they are certified, whatever the certifications are, as long as they have those, I do not care about the names of the company,” said Councilman Washington. “I want who can get there the most efficiently to save my parents.”

However, Councilman Rubin said entering into their own contract would place the responsibility in the hands of the city council to monitor each ambulance service that would operate in Alexandria.

“We are not equipped to be overseeing ambulance services,” said Rubin. “None of us here are trained in this area and it would not be fair for the citizens or the ambulance services for us to administer.”

Rubin did add that he has not decided if having multiple services operate in the city is the best option. He plans to leave that decision in the hands of the RPPJ who is expected to start re-evaluating their contract with Acadian Ambulance at the start of next year.

The police jury is set to form a committee in January 2024 featuring representatives from the cities and towns in Rapides Parish, including Alexandria, to determine if the parish as a whole will continue with a sole provider or allow for expansion of services by other companies.

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