Med Express pulls out of area after bought by Emergystat

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 24, 2001

Vernon, Ala.-based ambulance service Emergystat EMS has taken over Med Express of Mississippi in a buyout that was effective Tuesday.

Emergystat will be able to provide better service than Med Express because it already has four ambulances stationed in surrounding counties, said Emergystat Chief Financial Officer Joe Donovan.

That is in addition to two full-time ambulances that are now stationed in Adams County. In contrast, Med Express had two ambulances serving Adams County, and one of them also answered calls in Concordia Parish.

&uot;We already serve Wilkinson, Jefferson, Claiborne and Amite counties,&uot; Donovan said. &uot;We have a strong presence in the rest of southwest Mississippi, … and we plan to have a major presence in the community in Adams County, too.&uot;

&uot;They’re a strong company,&uot;&160;Med Express President Mark Majors said of Emergystat. &uot;They should do well in that market because they have more resources to provide.&uot;

The buyout also means that Concordia Parish will have only one parishwide ambulance service – at least, for now.

In a letter sent Monday to Concordia Parish Sheriff Randy Maxwell, Majors said his company would discontinue its presence in Concordia Parish May 1.

Maxwell could not be reached for comment Tuesday, the day the buyout was effective.

Pineville, La.-based Med Express was approved to respond to 911 calls in Concordia Parish in December but was dropped from the parish’s 911 rotation a month later.

&uot;But we hope to offer 911 service in Concordia Parish as soon as possible – hopefully, within the next 30 days,&uot; Joe Donovan, chief financial officer for Emergystat EMS, said Tuesday.

In order to operate in Concordia Parish, Emergystat would have to apply for an occupational license from the Concordia Parish Police Jury. It would also have to ask for approval from the parish’s 911 Communications Board to be added to the parish’s 911 rotation.

Under that rotation, ambulance calls received by Concordia’s 911 system would be alternately transferred to Emergystat and the other parishwide ambulance service, American Medical Response.

The buyout is just the latest chapter in a months-long effort by Med Express to have a greater presence in Concordia Parish.

Med Express had served Concordia Parish once before but had cut off service in August 1999.

Then in early December, the Communications Board voted to add Med Express to the parish’s 911 rotation, only to reverse that decision a month later.

Maxwell said Med Express was dropped from the rotation because it failed to answer several 911 calls.

Majors said that happened because BellSouth had switched the calls to a non-ringing line.

Since it was dropped from the rotation, Med Express has only recived 20 calls a month in Concordia, compared to 80 calls when it shared the 911 rotation with American Medical Response, Majors said.

Although he would not say how many calls his company gets per month, AMR Manager Jim Graves said that he does not believe Concordia Parish generates enough 911 calls for two ambulance companies.

&uot;There’s only x number of calls in that parish, and we’re getting the lion’s share,&uot; Graves said.

Still, Graves – whose company operates in both Adams County and Concordia Parish – said he welcomes Emergystat EMS, a company he said is of a &uot;higher caliber&uot;&160;than Med Express.

The parish’s only other ambulance service is operated by the Vidalia Fire Department but only operates within Vidalia’s town limits.