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The Villages
Thursday, March 30, 2023

Substandard ambulance service allowed to continue

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Susan Ridgeway

Last week the Sumter County Board of Commissions approved extending the contract for AMR yet again for ambulance transport service. AMR had provided such poor service for the past 10 years of their no-bid contract that the BOCC voted to end the contract with AMR in September 2021. This change took effect October 1, 2022 which gave both Sumter County Fire Rescue and The Villages Public Safety Department a year to secure the necessary equipment and personnel.

Under the guidance of prior Fire Chief Edmund Cain, VPSD secured the necessary ambulances, equipment and personnel (trained Paramedics and EMT’s). This resulted in response time for an ambulance by VPSD to 4-6 minutes. This is compared to the over 30 minutes residents living in Sumter County outside of the footprint of The Villages must wait for an ambulance. How could this have happened?

At last Tuesday’s BOCC meeting the Commissioners approved extending the AMR contract and payment of $817,350 for (quoting from the Daily Sun article) to provide transport service still in effect BECAUSE THE COUNTY HAS BEEN UNABLE TO HIRE ENOUGH PARAMEDICS AND EMT’S TO FULLY TAKE OVER OPERATIONS. The contract will remain in effect until Sumter County reaches a sufficient level of staffing to cover all ambulances in operation.

Sumter County residents (outside of The Villages) should be protesting loudly about this and demanding answers. Why was the VPSD able to secure equipment and staffing but after all this time Sumter County has not? Why was the AMR contract (remember AMR is the company that was managed locally by the wife of the Assistant County Administrator) renewed instead of demanding that the Fire Chief and County Administrator do their job. The BOCC is elected to best manage the County on behalf of ALL the residents of Sumter County. Although I live in The Villages, and thus have great ambulance service, what about all the other residents? The BOCC needs to do their job and hold people accountable

Susan Ridgeway is a resident of the Village of Lake Deaton.

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