CHEROKEE Co., SC (WSPA) — Cherokee County Council unanimously voted to accept a bid from Lifeguard Ambulance for EMS service in the county.

This new agreement will go into effect before the end of 2019.

Upstate Carolina EMS served as the primary source for ambulance service in Cherokee County over the years.

Monday night’s vote shifted the responsibility of the ambulance service from the county to a new company, but taxpayers will still foot the bill.

County council worked directly with the EMS company to ensure Cherokee County had emergency coverage.

“Since the county was now responsible we knew that we would have to put it out for bid.” said Cherokee County Administrator Steve Bratton.

While six companies submitted proposals, Lifeguard Ambulance Service’s $1.175 million submission won the bid.

“I got nothing but glowing reviews from everywhere that they’re located,” Bratton said.

Lifeguard is based in Alabama and according to Wes Harrell, who serves as the National Public Affairs Director, expanding to Cherokee County is a part of their overall growth plan.

“While we’re very excited about our continued growth in South Carolina, our number one priority and main focus will be for a smooth transition in Cherokee County,” Harrell said.

Cherokee County settled a dispute with Mary Black – Gaffney over the ambulance service just last year. The hospital provided EMS to the county since 1984, when the county sold the hospital.

When Mary Black terminated that agreement, the county scrambled for a replacement at taxpayer expense.

“When we were handed the ambulance service last year we increased millage by 5 mills during the 2018-2019 budget because we knew that this was coming so that is all we’re going to ask for at this point,” Bratton said.

Lifeguard will have five stations to start and at least eight trucks, serving the county 24 hours a day, seven days a week.