County looks into Williston Rescue's compliance
Aiken County officials have found that the Williston Rescue Squad is not in compliance with several terms of its franchise agreement.
The issue was brought to Aiken County Council's attention that Williston Rescue Squad's address matched the address of a gun store during its regular meeting on Tuesday. Council asked officials to look into the issue.
Williston Rescue Squad offers emergency services to Barnwell County but only non-emergency or convalescent transport for Aiken County.
Aiken County Emergency Services Director Tommy Thompson said the County's franchise contract requires its franchisees have a physical presence in the County.
In his investigation, Thompson discovered the Williston Rescue Squad's listed address was at a gun shop belonging to one of its employees.
The second issue was the Williston Rescue Squad's phone number was no longer operational, Thompson said.
Lastly, Williston Rescue Squad was not paying its Aiken County vehicle taxes, he said.
Thompson said he contacted Williston Rescue Squad to make it aware of the issues.
Williston Rescue Squad Chief Operating Officer Phil Clarke said nonpayment of taxes was “an oversight,” and he is working to resolve that immediately.
Clarke has emphasized there was no fraudulent intent.
Thompson said Clarke will then go to his board of directors to determine if Williston Rescue will remain a franchisee with Aiken County, or terminate its contract.
“If they decide they want to terminate, they can do that voluntarily,” Thompson said. “If they can't satisfy our requirements, we also have the right to terminate that franchise agreement.”
The Williston Rescue Squad has had its own struggles in the past year.
In 2013, the Williston Rescue Squad agreed to pay the United States $800,000 to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by making the false claims for payment to Medicare.
Thompson is in the process of verifying the other County ambulance franchises to ensure each is meeting County requirements.
Thompson said the County will also review the ordinance regarding the County's franchise agreement for any potential updates.
Amy Banton is the County reporter for the Aiken Standard. She has been with the publication since May 2010. She is a native of Rustburg, Va., and a graduate of Randolph-Macon Woman's College.