Liberty Ambulance withdraws St. Johns County permit renewal request

The president of Liberty Ambulance Service says he intends to re-file the application for the permit renewal

File photo

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – After the death of a triathlon participant at Mickler’s Landing in the fall, Liberty Ambulance Service has withdrawn its application to continue operating in St. Johns County.

The St. Johns County Board of County Commission was set to vote Tuesday to reject Liberty’s permit renewal.

The incident that led to Tuesday’s developments happened in October at the Game On! Ponte Vedra Beach Triathlon. A 51-year-old man suffered a heart attack and was taken to a hospital, where he died. Liberty Ambulance was providing coverage of the event. Several members of the St. Johns County Fire Rescue were there as off-duty participants and filed complaints about the way Liberty personnel responded. As a result of the investigation, Liberty was notified of substandard level of care.

Fire Rescue Chief Jeffrey Prevatt wrote a letter to the commission recommending denial of Liberty’s application, saying its “level of care found is not acceptable for the citizens and visitors to St. Johns County.”

After the original version of this article was published, Liberty Ambulance Services President Michael Assaf called News4JAX to say that while he did withdraw the application, there are ongoing discussions with Fire Rescue about the incident in which the triathlete died of a heart attack. Assaf said he intends to re-file the application for the permit renewal and sent the following statement:

“Liberty Ambulance Service made the decision to withdraw our application for renewal of the St. Johns County Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity until we meet with the Fire Chief and other members of his administration to discuss the incident that occurred last fall. There are several conflicting stories in regards to the incident so, in order to ensure public safety and make sure that we have accurate information, we have temporarily postponed our request for renewal until after we have gathered all information and can move forward with the confidence of the county EMS, administrators, and Commissioners.”