LARGO —A board that advises the County Commission about Pinellas' emergency medical services system is recommending commissioners hire a consultant to evaluate the feasibility of having firefighters take patients to the hospital.
The 9-4 decision Thursday was a turnaround for the Emergency Medical Services Advisory Council, which voted in August to support a proposal by County Administrator Bob LaSala to change the way EMS is funded. That August vote included a clause that said EMSAC members would remain open to ideas other than LaSala's.
Since then, they have heard a presentation by Scott Sanford and Jim Millican, two firefighters who created a plan for fire-based transport. The county has said that the Sanford-Millican plan as well as a different proposal by Seminole District fire Chief Rick Koda are unworkable and too expensive.
The EMSAC vote did not specify that the independent consultant study any particular plan. It would instead have the consultant evaluate the concept itself.
EMSAC members suggested the transport study be conducted simultaneously with one that will determine the workability of LaSala's proposal. The county received only one bid for that study, from Fitch and Associates, a Missouri-based group. The bid price was $117,000. A board is evaluating that bid.
Anne Lindberg, Times staff writer