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Ambulance services in Catoosa County will now be controlled by the Catoosa County government after the county was awarded a bid by the Georgia Department of Public Health.

Catoosa County has a contract in place with Priority Ambulance — which owns Puckett EMS — for two years to provide EMS services to the entire county.

Even though the contract is for two years, it will be renegotiated after one year.

The move by Catoosa County will hopefully ensure continued ambulance services and speedy response times for all within county limits.

Catoosa County Manager Alicia Vaughn said the change will allow the local government to have control over ambulance services, the contracts that are agreed upon and accountability in case issues come up.

Steve Quinn, the emergency management director for Catoosa County, said the move will not affect customers in any way and said it will be a seamless transition.

Vaughn also said taxpayers should see savings because of the zones being consolidated.

In March, Catoosa commissioners gave county staffers the green light to pursue action that would allow Catoosa to be consolidated into a single ambulance zone.

Before the most recent change, Catoosa was divided into two ambulance zones by the state: one that covered the western half of the county and another that covered the eastern half. The county previously control only the eastern zone, with the western zone licensed to and controlled by Angel Emergency Medical Services.

The Fort Oglethorpe-based ambulance service's operations were recently acquired by Priority Ambulance, which operates under several brands across the Southeast, including Puckett Emergency Medical Services.

After more than a year of considering consolidating the zones and coming up with a proposal, Catoosa will start a two-year agreement with Puckett EMS for a monthly subsidy of $20,800. The arrangement with Angel EMS called for a monthly subsidy of $12,500.

Under the new agreement, Puckett EMS will assign three full-time ambulances to Catoosa County, each stationed at a different location to ensure equitable access across the county.

As part of the contract, the provider will also have other ambulances floating around during peak hours for emergency calls to ensure they meet the required response times. Puckett will also provide coverage for events such as high school football games, live fire training and disaster training.

Contact Patrick Filbin at pfilbin@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickFilbin.

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