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Judge orders injunction for PBAS

A series of hearings lasting one year nearly to the day resulted in an injunction against Pleasant Bay Ambulance Service last week.

Judge Terry Dempsey granted the injunction requested jointly by the City of Russellville, City of Red Bay and Franklin County, which orders Pleasant Bay Ambulance not to operate at all within the city limits of Russellville and Red Bay, as well as not to answer 9-1-1 calls in the county. Pleasant Bay Ambulance Service is permitted to answer private pay calls in the county.

Roger Bedford, attorney for Red Bay and Franklin County, said he was “very pleased” with the results.

“We won on all accounts,” Bedford said. “We got 100 percent of what we were asking for.”

According to Bedford, he – as well as the County EMS Committee – never intended to bar Pleasant Bay from picking up private calls in the county. “We don’t know when somebody calls on a private call,” Bedford. “The three things we asked for … the judge granted.”

Attorney Billy Underwood, who represented Elzie Malone and Pleasant Bay Ambulance Service, said they were initially told Malone could not answer even private calls. As they were initially fighting to be allowed to pick up private calls, Underwood said he considered it a great victory that Dempsey did not enjoin Pleasant Bay from answering private pay calls in the county.

“He does it at a much cheaper rate than Shoals Ambulance,” Underwood said. “(Malone) was just overjoyed (to find out that was allowed).”

Underwood said he is “not upset one bit” with the 9-1-1 contract being granted to a sole provider – which is Shoals Ambulance. What is still in question, at least for Underwood, is whether it’s legal to bar Malone from answering private calls within the city limits.

“I don’t believe you can have an exclusivity on private enterprise,” Underwood said. “It’s sort of communistic in nature, what they’ve done.”

Presently, only the contracted ambulance service may obtain a business license from Russellville and Red Bay. Because Pleasant Bay did not win the bid, it cannot obtain a license.

“When the government tells you you can only use one entity, to me that’s communistic,” said Underwood. He said the city requiring private calls to be handled by the contracted service is like the government requiring private citizens to eat at McDonald’s.

That being the case, Underwood said Malone might choose to appeal the judge’s order in that regard – a possibility that is still under discussion.

However, Bedford and City of Russellville attorney Danny McDowell don’t have any concerns that Underwood has a case for appeal.

“I think the judge has ruled correctly and on the law solidly,” Bedford said.

“I feel confident that the judge is on sound judicial reasoning,” McDowell agreed.