Columbia County school officials might consider a less expensive ambulance service for Friday football games.
The board pays about $11,000 annually to Gold Cross for the company to station an ambulance near each field during varsity games.
Augusta-based South Star Ambulance Services has offered the same coverage for as little as $6,000, Superintendent Charles Nagle told school board members during a recent meeting.
The board started paying for ambulance service at football games after Phillip Hill, 15, collapsed from a brain injury incurred during a junior varsity game at Greenbrier High School in September 2003.
Construction on Washington Road delayed an ambulance, and Phillip was airlifted to Medical College of Georgia Hospital.
At that time, board member Wayne Bridges said medical coverage should be provided at games "whatever the cost might be."
More recently, Bridges pointed out that trained medical personnel, not including the EMTs, attend school sporting event.
Discussions of providing new ambulance services should include developing a plan to clear a path for ambulances to and from sporting events, Bridges said.
He noted that ambulances are contracted to attend only varsity football games.
"If you're going to do it for varsity, then why not for (junior varsity) or soccer?" he asked.
Board Chairwoman Regina Buccafusco said traffic congestion for other sporting events isn't as bad as it is for Friday night football games, and she insisted on paying for ambulance coverage at those games.
Nagle pointed out that Gold Cross offers no guarantee it will remain for an entire football game because EMTs are obligated to react to emergencies that might take them from the field.
However, Nagle said his staff would negotiate a price with South Star and discuss it with the board at a later meeting.
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