2015
09.29

A winning bidder for Walker County’s ambulance service has not yet been formally announced, but the final decision has been made – and made public by the owner of a losing bidder.

Memo: DeWayne Wilson on Puckett Ambulance

DeWayne Wilson, owner of Angel Medical (and Walker County Coroner among many other things), sent this message to his employees yesterday, bemoaning Commissioner Heiskell’s secret decision to transfer the ambulance service and equipment to Puckett Medical.

Puckett, based out of Powder Springs GA, reportedly offered $1.5 million for the county’s EMS team, versus Wilson’s Angel offering “about $1 million.” Puckett also offered to charge county residents $850 per ambulance ride and $12 per mile vs. Angel Medical’s $950 and $16.50 per mile.

Puckett’s annual fee to the county is $250,000, some $40k higher than the $210,000 fee Wilson offered to charge. That’s in line with what the ambulance service is said to cost the county internally now, minus employee liabilities. (If annual fees are backed out of the sale price, no money would change hands for several years.)

Walker EMS Service Ambulance

Wilson says his offer was the better deal, which doesn’t seem to be the case – although it’s not clear exactly how close either company could come to matching the current level of coverage. Both would likely cut back the number of ambulances available, and Puckett is rumored to be planning a huge reduction.

(Offers from a third bidder, American Medical, were not revealed in any media reports and seem to have been summarily dismissed by the Commissioner. An initial proposal from July “selling” the ambulance service to Hutcheson for a fictional $2 million was abandoned when man+dog realized Hutcheson is going out of business.)

DeWayne Wilson also says Commissioner Heiskell held a “private meeting” with Puckett Monday to give them the contract. He mentions the process has taken “the last 9 months,” indicating Heiskell was in talks to sell the ambulance service six months before she made those plans public or even revealed them to her employees. Both of those statements, if true, could violate state rules for the bidding process. (Good luck getting anything done about that.)

Puckett EMS Logo

Dade County has used Puckett since Walker County bought Hutcheson’s ambulance service in 2010, and most in Dade have said they’re happy with the company. How well that translates to Walker’s much larger territory and population is yet to be seen.

We could find out as soon as Thursday, as the original plan was set to begin on October 1st and Heiskell has insisted all along she needs EMS employees off the county’s budget by that date. Talk about short notice…

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9 comments so far

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  1. Nothing surprises me anymore.

  2. Our EMUSwas a good reliable service with good people. Now we face an unknown. I would move out of this county if I could afford to ,but I cannot. I doubt the new service will offer the community classes and such that Walker County did. Babe has taken away a very good service for us and replaced it with a bargain basement one. She has to go. She has messed this county up so much during her tenure and I guarantee she has more to come. Please vote. Vote her out!

  3. Dewayne Wilson and “the truth” cannot coexist and his offer to tell it is yet another falsehood. Every time he has lost a bid for the past 8 years I’ve known him, he has called a foul play on the winning bidder. There is always an excuse, always a finger pointed, always some new enemy to hate. The truth is folks that the citizens and their leadership in the tri-county areas have made a statement to Dewayne and the service that he speaks of. They told him “no” and rightly so as his name and credibility continue to be surrounded with accusation. Where there is smoke; fire has been. The most sacred of trusts, bonds, and even friendships are beyond his reach as should the loyalty of Walker County’s tax paying people be beyond his influence and remain unincumbered by his poor judgement. Congrats on avoiding shark infested waters Walker!

  4. Why would anyone want anything to do with Angel EMS? I don’t work for either, but look up Puckett EMS and they numerous awards they have received, and their employees and equipment are so much nicer and better trained. Just saying

  5. Lisa Goff is undoubtedly a idiot.

  6. I know that several people in positions of authority would like to see Angel out of Catoosa County. They have stated instances of unprepared crews and sub standard equipment.

  7. Puckett EMS is a GREAT ambulance service that not only provides coverage for Dade County GA but also Marion and Sequatchiee counties in Tennessee and East Ridge as well! Good decision by Walker County!!

  8. I think walker county doesn’t want to see a service they’ve grown to love change hands. Rightfully so. There are some unknowns and I sympathize with the employees who have had to put up with this nonsense over the past few months. One persons inability to run the county effectively and run it into the ground is truly sad. If funds werent wasted on the money pit Mountain Cove Farm, the county could have afforded tp keep its EMS service. With that being said, Puckett EMS is a great service. The county dodged a bullet when avoiding “ANGEL”. As for the reductions of coverage? No. The bid said nothing of cutting coverage.

  9. I am praising God that Angel did not and I said did not get the contract. A rep from Puckett was on UCTV and it was very uplifting. Angel needs a lot of revamping if they want to get anywhere.