Ambulance pulls from rotation

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 2, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; One of the three ambulance companies serving Natchez and Adams County notified authorities Monday it is taking itself out of that rotation until further notice.

Both Civil Defense Director George Souderes and Natchez Police Chief Mike Mullins confirmed Monday they received the notice from ambulance company Emergystat by fax.

The faxes didn&8217;t include a reason for the change or a date by which Emergystat hoped to be back in the rotation.

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Calls to Emergystat&8217;s headquarters in Vernon, Ala., weren&8217;t return late Monday afternoon.

That leaves the city and county with two ambulance services in the rotation: American Medical Response and Metro Rural Ambulance Service.

However, Souderes said he believes AMR and Metro Rural have the resources to handle calls between the two of them.

Jim Pollard, Jackson-based communications director for AMR in Mississippi, said the company will act to fill the gap.

&8220;We deploy ambulances based on demand, and we have the flexibility to act quickly&8221; to respond to calls with its current personnel and trucks, Pollard said.

The countywide dispatch center, located at the Natchez Police Department, rotates calls among ambulance companies in the rotation, a system that&8217;s been in place for more than 20 years.

The county&8217;s 911 board &8212; made up of Natchez&8217;s police and fire chiefs, county officials and a handful of other local officials &8212; approves ambulance services for the rotation.

According to an attorney general&8217;s opinion, such boards may take into account staffing, equipment and response times, among other factors, when reviewing companies to add to the rotation, Souderes said. But even if an ambulance service is not in the rotation, it can still do business since patients can request a particular company or call the company directly.

Figures on how many counties in Mississippi dispatch ambulances on a rotation basis &8212; and how many contract each year with only one company &8212; aren&8217;t kept on the state level, according to the Mississippi Association of Supervisors.