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Commissioners set hearing for air ambulance
County may adopt alternating system for competing services
With another air ambulance service set to begin servicing Union County, officials are left wondering how having two services will work.
Air Life, under parent company Air Methods, plans to launch soon. It will compete with Life Flight Network, which has operated in the county for a couple years, according to Union County Emergency Services Officer J.B. Brock.
Air Methods previously provided staffing, maintenance and aircraft for Life Flight. The companies ended that relationship Aug. 1.
Brock told county commissioners Wednesday that Air Methods has requested the county adopt a rotating system for the air ambulance providers.
Brock said the county’s attorney said the county cannot favor one provider over the other.
“Basically, the attorney states that you cannot give one provider preference over another just because they’ve been providing service in the county,” he said.
Commissioner Mark Davidson said the county needs to have an “open and public process where we hear from all the interested parties.”
Commissioner Steve McClure added that they also need to get clarification on what they can and cannot do in the situation.
Brock suggested the commission look to other counties that are “having the same discussion right now.” An Air Life representative mentioned that some counties with multiple air ambulance providers have incorporated the alternating system.
“One question that was asked was the question of reciprocity,” Brock said. The county is interested in finding out whether someone with an insurance policy with Life Flight will be covered if Air Life responds — or vice versa.
“That’s one big concern that we have for the citizens of the county,” Brock said.
Commissioners plan to hold a hearing on the matter at 10 a.m. Oct. 16.
Also at Wednesday’s meeting, commissioners passed an ordinance prohibiting aggregate and mineral mining in heavy industrial zones. In a hearing last month, commissioners heard from proponents and opponents of the change, noting that other zones allow for mining.
County Planning Director Hanley Jenkins said the ordinance does conditionally allow for mineral exploration.