State complains of slow EMS response to calls from prison

Associated Press


State prisons officials say they are reviewing the contract with a Columbus private ambulance company because of slow response times.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction filed a contract complaint about MedCare Ambulance. Prisons spokeswoman JoEllen Smith said the department is reviewing the contract “about vendor compliance” with the Department of Administrative Services. That’s the state government’s business arm, which awarded the contract that, besides inmates, also covers any corrections officers, staff members or visitors needing an ambulance.

The report said MedCare has had several instances of slow response times. One of the latest surfaced recently as a result of investigation of Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro’s hanging death Sept. 3 in his prison cell. The prison report found that an ambulance was signifi- cantly slow in arriving, although the delay probably didn’t affect the outcome.

A message was left Saturday for MedCare Ambulance, which has had the prison contract since July 1. The state bid out prison emergency-medical contracts with public and private sources in a cost-cutting move. Private ambulance companies often underbid public services, The Dispatch reported.

Under the contract, which is based on unit costs for services, “repeated responses in excess of the 15-minute requirement may be cause for termination of the contract.”

The Castro investigation showed that it took a MedCare ambulance 35 minutes to arrive at the Corrections Medical Center in Orient, Ohio. The state report said the response time probably didn’t matter because it was unlikely he could have been resuscitated.

The state prison investigation also found that two prison guards falsified logs about how often they had checked on Castro.

MedCare also has contracts to serve the Hocking and Marion correctional institutions.

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