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Ambulance hearing continues

After several months of continuations, the hearing to consider an injunction against Pleasant Bay Ambulance Service, begun in September, resumed Tuesday.

Hours of testimony featured back and forth between Billy Underwood, attorney for PBAS owner Elzie Malone, and Roger Bedford and Danny McDowell, attorneys for Franklin County and the city of Russellville, respectively.

Although Malone has a state license – as confirmed in testimony by Underwood’s expert witness, EMS Specialist Vickie Turner – the cities’ (Russellville and Red Bay) and county’s argument is that this state license does not override local requirements and regulations: namely, that Malone does not have a license to operate in the city or county, and he must have said license in order to operate. Malone cannot be granted a license because of the ordinance enacted last year that grants an exclusive service agreement among the county, cities and the ambulance service with the winning bid – Shoals Ambulance.

Turner affirmed that Malone’s state license gives him authority from the state to operate in Franklin County but also agreed that “We don’t override a city or county regulation … We have nothing to do with that.

Testimony continued to address multiple angles of the ongoing conflict between Pleasant Bay and the cities of Red Bay and Russellville and Franklin County, including what the ambulance inspection standards are and who bears the responsibility for initiating an ambulance inspection, as well as the bid process and selection for Franklin County’s sole ambulance provider, with both sides objecting to the other’s line of questioning often.

Applause erupted in the courtroom from Pleasant Bay employees after a line of questioning with Probate Judge Barry Moore confirmed that Pleasant Bay has the right to pick up people who call Pleasant Bay personally and do not go through the 9-1-1 service.

“We have no way of monitoring that,” Moore said. “If they do a private call, we don’t monitor private calls.”

“If somebody in the county calls Elzie Malone to pick them up, there’s nothing wrong with that, correct?” Underwood probed, after a brief quibble between the two sides about whether or not Russellville and Red Bay were being included in the question.

“If it’s a private call, yes. We have no knowledge of that,” Moore said.

“The county’s not taking away the individual right to choose,” Bedford agreed.

McDowell contended that this is not the case for the city of Russellville, where Pleasant Bay Ambulance Service is completely excluded from operating. Bedford said the same for the city of Red Bay.

Judge Terry Dempsey said both sides have seven days to submit any additional supporting materials or briefs, after which time he will issue his decision on whether to issue an injunction against Pleasant Bay.