Newcomer ambulance service GEMS has taken its legal complaints against the city of Pine Bluff to a higher level by filing them in Jefferson County Circuit Court.

Newcomer ambulance service GEMS has taken its legal complaints against the city of Pine Bluff to a higher level by filing them in Jefferson County Circuit Court.

Galbraith Emergency Medical Services Ambulance Service Inc. has filed a complaint for a temporary restraining order, according to documents filed Monday by attorney Leon Jones Jr. of Fayetteville with the Circuit Clerk’s office.

The complaint states that the 1999 city ordinance that awarded an exclusive franchise agreement to sister companies Emergency Ambulance Service Inc. and Ambulance Transport Service violates state law for several reasons. It concludes by requesting that:

• The city’s cease and desist order against GEMS be revoked;

• The 1999 ordinance establishing the exclusive franchise agreement be declared void;

• And the city be ordered to open a competitive bid process to select a company with which to contract for emergency medical services.

Jones and City Attorney Althea Hadden-Scott both presented their arguments about the situation Monday in a special called Public Safety Committee meeting.

The key disagreement between the two sides is whether GEMS is allowed to respond to and transport patients from emergency calls within the city limits. Both sides agree that the 1999 ordinance is flawed.

Jones argued that because of those problems and because the agreement was not put out to bid before the exclusive franchise was granted to EASI, the agreement is invalid and GEMS should be able to respond to emergency calls.

Hadden-Scott argued that there are some modifications that need to be made to the ordinance, but that does not mean that the whole ordinance is invalid. She said she will have those suggested amendments ready for the aldermen to consider at the next council meeting on Monday, May 7.

The cease-and-desist order and resolution to consider revoking GEMS’ occupation license relate back to two incidents when GEMS responded to a March 5 traffic accident on Interstate 530 and transported the patients to Jefferson Regional Medical Center and to a Feb. 22 emergency call at Trinity Village Nursing Home and transported the patient to JRMC, according to a March 13 memo from Hadden-Scott to the mayor and council.

Hadden-Scott’s position is that those two transports violate city ordinance because of the exclusive agreement with EASI.

GEMS Director of Operations John Galbraith does not contest the city’s claim that GEMS has responded to emergency calls within the city limits, but argues that the company did not violate city law when it did so.