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Samaritan EMS now serving Hartselle

Published 1:53pm Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Samaritan EMS has taken over as Hartselle’s ambulance service provider after First Response EMS was unable to fulfill its agreement with the city.

Fire Chief Steve Shelton said Samaritan EMS agreed to keep an ambulance in the city limits for the next 45 days while the city decides where it goes from here.

“We’re studying everything over the next 45 days to see what areas we need to change,” Shelton said. “They have agreed to help us out through that time until we can figure out what we need to do to make it more profitable for ambulance services to be here in Hartselle.”

Samaritan is the third ambulance service to cover Hartselle this month. Crossroads EMS shut down its operations earlier this month. First Response EMS initially agreed to help the City of Hartselle for 30 days but quickly changed its mind.

“The situation literally changed overnight,” Shelton said. “After we met with them, they changed their minds the next morning and said they couldn’t dedicate one ambulance to Hartselle, but they would do it for Falkville.”

Shelton said First Response EMS’s response time had increased from 17 to 25 minutes with ambulances responding from Decatur. Thus, he revoked First Response’s license to do business in the city and then was able to secure the agreement with Samaritan EMS.

“First Response was basing their decision only on the first four days of operating in the city limits,” Shelton said. “They did not believe that Hartselle had enough of a call volume to keep one ambulance in Hartselle at all times.”

Shelton said he is considering all options at this time. He has worked with Falkville to see if the two communities could broker a deal together.

He has even talked with County Commissioner Don Stisher and Commission Chairman Ray Long about having one ambulance provider for the entire county outside of Decatur and Trinity.

City Councilman Tom Chappell recommended that the city determine how much of a subsidy it would take to get an ambulance provider to maintain an office with at least one ambulance in the city limits.

“If we don’t have an ambulance provider, it falls back on us to provide that service,” Chappell said. “We should find out what it would take for an ambulance provider to come into the city. We need to look at all alternatives.”

Shelton even proposed offering to provide a driver if a company would furnish the EMT and the ambulance.

Before the 45 days are up, Shelton wants to meet with all entities involved in the ambulance search to see what revisions to the ambulance ordinance need to be made before requests for proposals are sent out again.

Shelton said the ambulance service needs 5.2 calls per truck to justify having an ambulance inside the city limits.

“Some days, we don’t even have that,” Shelton said.

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