By Tony Farkas
GROVETON — The Trinity County Commissioners Court will exercise its authority to terminate a contract with Groveton EMS.
The county had a contract with the EMS firm for $1,500 per month to provide ambulance service in the Groveton area; on May 23, the court voted to send a 90-day notice of termination to Groveton EMS citing poor service and breach of contract.
County Attorney Colton Hay said that it came to his attention that the main paramedic for Groveton EMS had a lapsed license, but the firm continued to operate. The state requires at least two licensed caregivers to be granted a basic lifesaving license for EMS crews, and Groveton EMS had been operating out of compliance for months.
Hay further said that he was told the EMS service was under investigation.
Groveton EMS was informed of lapse, and Hay said he was told that a variance had been filed with the state, which was granted May 22. However, Hay said that even though the variance was approved, the investigation continues.
“Groveton EMS is who we contracted with to serve our residents, and with the trouble (they have been having), I don’t think they’re the proper representation for us, and shouldn’t be in the position to help our residents,” Hay said. “It’s becoming more and more apparent they are not worth what we are paying them. I think our residents deserve better.”
Sheriff Woody Wallace said that he has directed his staff to no longer dispatch to Groveton EMS since they were out of compliance.
“He needs to go; the county should no longer pay him,” Wallace said. “There are lots of other agencies that can fill this need.”
Hay reminded the court that the subject of Groveton EMS came before the court months ago, and court members told them they needed to do a better job.
“Here we are again, and if anything, service has declined,” Hay said.
David Robison, owner of Groveton EMS, said on Tuesday he regrets the actions that have led to this.
Robison said the paperwork for a variance was corrected the day he became aware of it; however, the letter was sent to the wrong address, for which Robison took full responsibility for.
“I am regretful that I have let my community down,” he said. “It has been the greatest honor in my 41 years of EMS work to serve this community. I feel I have made a difference in many people’s lives, and I care very much for the people here.”
Robison said the service is still in Groveton, and still able to be sent on calls.
“I hope we can work out our differences,” he said. “We are here to help; and right now we are a legally operating ambulance service.”
Relatedly, Andre Ruby of City Ambulance of Lufkin gave a presentation of what it would cost for other firms to provide ambulance services, but the county made no decisions.
Ruby said that his service could provide an ambulance for Groveton and the surrounding area at a cost of $10,000 per month on a two-month contract.
Commissioner Tommy Park moved to send the letter, which was passed 4-1. Commissioner Steven Truss voted against it, saying his experience with them was good.
The Groveton City Council, which also has a contract with Groveton EMS, was to hold a special meeting Tuesday to discuss the fate of the contract.