Douglas County commissioners approve purchase of two new ambulances

The Douglas County Commission on Wednesday approved a purchase mechanism for two new ambulances, which should make a vehicle available for Eudora in January 2017.

It was explained to commissioners, however, that the expansion of Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical ambulance service to Eudora, which commissioners agreed to fund in 2017, won’t start with the new year. Chief Mark Bradford, of Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical, said the need to hire and train new medics would delay the start of service. That could take a couple of months, but the department was looking to start the service “as soon as possible,” he said.

The measure that commissioners approved would waive the bid process so the county can purchase two ambulances through the Houston-Galveston Area Council, which assists local governments in purchasing emergency vehicles at reduced cost. One of the ambulances was needed for the new Eudora service, and the other unit will replace one due to be rotated out of the fleet in 2017, Bradford said.

The total cost for the two units is $515,466.

Purchasing them together would allow the county to take advantage of a $5,000 multi-unit purchase discount that Houston-Galveston Area Council offers, Bradford said. Moreover, because Houston-Galveston Area Council charges per transaction and not unit, the county would save $1,000 by buying the replacement unit along with the Eudora ambulance rather than getting it next year as slated, he said. Commissioners would have to approve a budget amendment denoting the purchase of the replacement unit in December, he said.

In other business, the County Commission:

• Learned from Commissioner Mike Gaughan that the Douglas County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, which he chairs, agreed at a retreat Saturday to create three working subcommittees. One will investigate the disproportionate representation of people of color in the county’s criminal justice system, another the disproportionate representation of people of color in the Douglas County Jail, and the third group will review a range of alternatives to incarceration in the county jail and what diversion programs the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office can add.

The coordinating council, which had been meeting every three weeks, will now meet every two months as the subcommittees start their work, Gaughan said.

The subcommittees’ memberships have not been established, but Douglas County residents not on the coordinating council will be asked to serve on the subcommittees, Gaughan said.

• Approved a site plan request from Broyles Seeds to construct a 5,000 square-foot warehouse in Worden, at 902 North 300 Road.