DARLINGTON, SC (WMBF) – Changes could be coming to how Medical Transport Services operated within the Darlington City limits.
Chief Watson with the Darlington Police Department explained the number of non-emergency medical transportation companies is continuing to increase in Darlington. Just a few years ago, there was only one. Now, there are around seven.
Currently, DHEC regulates the equipment on board, but Chief Watson worries that no one is checking the actual vehicles.
He now plans to enforce the Code of Ordinances, as if the non-emergency services are Private Transport Businesses.
In a statement given to WMBF News, the Chief writes:
"In regard to the matter of Private Transport Businesses who have customers that live in the City of Darlington, such entities will be required to get business licenses and fulfill such other requirements as deemed necessary. All of the specific details have not been worked out at this point. One requirement will be that they get a license to operate a business just as any other business that operates in any municipality must have. Vehicle inspections will also be required unless there is a mechanical inspection of such vehicles that can be provided to us by a state entity such as DOT for each of those vehicles used. IT is not our intention to inspect these vehicles for patient care items as these inspections are done by DHEC. Other details will be worked out as we meet with the stakeholders from these different transportation companies. Our intention is as it always has been and that is to simply provide the best public safety services available for the City of Darlington. Chief Watson"
The issue sparked debate on Facebook as the police chief tried to explain to the public that these services would fall under the same ordinance that taxi companies also fall under.
In part, the Facebook post states: Do no confuse them with Darlington County EMS or The Rescue Squad services because they are not the same thing they are not being dispatched as emergency medical services but are doing so for hire by people (or their medical healthcare professional) specifically just as a person would a taxi cab or limousine service. They are certainly more specialized and do provide additional comforts and services for their riders however they are essentially the same as a transport or taxi service. These services are FOR PROFIT not any different than any other type of business.
Chief Watson clarified in the same post that since the companies are transporting passengers from one location to another as directed by the passenger, the services are defined as 'taxicabs' under the City's Codes.
Chief Watson explained this is simply to make sure the vehicles are up to the city's standards and are safe for residents to use.
Tow Truck Services, the post pointed out, are also subject to the same rules.