EMS group exits

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 23, 2001

VIDALIA, La. – Winnsboro-based Northeast Louisiana Ambulance Service has withdrawn from Concordia Parish, company and parish officials said Wednesday.

The withdrawal was effective as of 8 a.m. Monday, according to a letter Northeast officials sent the Concordia Parish Police Jury, said the jury’s secretary and treasuer Robbie Shirley. Jury President Charlie Blaney said he received the letter Monday.

&uot;We just couldn’t get any calls&uot; for service, said Northeast Co-Owner Gary Peters. &uot;There were enough calls in the parish for two (ambulance) companies, but we couldn’t get any of them.&uot;

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For one thing, Northeast was not in the parish’s 911 rotation, in which dispatchers would have alternated sending calls to Northeast and the only other parishwide ambulance service, American Medical Response.

In the letter to the Police Jury, Northeast officials said they were leaving &uot;because the 911 (board) didn’t respond like they thought they ought to,&uot; Blaney said.

The Concordia Parish 911 Communications Board decides which ambulance companies are added to the rotation.

Sheriff Randy Maxwell, chairman of that board, could not be reached for comment.

Kathleen Stevens, a spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Office, confirmed Wednesday that Northeast had withdrawn its request to be added to the parish’s 911 rotation.

The Ferriday Town Council and Concordia Parish Police Jury approved occupational licenses for Northeast on June 12 and July 9.

&uot;But we couldn’t get (the 911 board) to have a meeting&uot; on Northeast’s request, Peters said. &uot;After three or four weeks, they said they were finally having a meeting.&uot;

But by that time, Northeast — like many ambulance companies throughout the state, Peters said — was having trouble finding and retaining paramedics to staff its Ferriday location.

The staffing problem &uot;was the straw that broke the camel’s back,&uot; Peters said. &uot;I was very disappointed — I&160;don’t like to give up. … But at that point, it looked like we were throwing good money after bad.&uot;

That leaves two ambulance companies in Concordia Parish.