Ambulance company closes doors in Natchez

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 22, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; Emergystat Ambulance Service has closed its Natchez office and stopped serving Adams County.

The company contacted the E911 board and central dispatch on Oct. 19 to notify them of the change, effective on Oct. 20.

&8220;It has been a pleasure serving the citizens of Adams County, but at the current time it is not economically feasible to operate in Adams County with the low call volume being divided between three ambulance services,&8221; a letter from Emergystat Communications Director Mark Niday says.

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In January, Emergystat removed itself from the county&8217;s three-ambulance rotation. A month later they reinstated themselves, only to pull out again a few weeks later, citing an employee walkout.

The company was put back on the rotation in June.

In Niday&8217;s letter, he says the ambulance service&8217;s call volume &8220;never increased back to its past levels after being reinstated.&8221;

Niday said by phone Thursday that he&8217;s not sure why the number of calls decreased.

&8220;I don&8217;t know if it was just coincidental or not,&8221; he said. &8220;When we were on rotation before our call volume was considerably higher.&8221;

Niday said he could not comment on whether the company would ever reopen its doors in Natchez.

Emergystat still has offices in Jefferson and Claiborne counties as well as six other states.

The main office is based in Alabama.

The remaining two ambulance services &8212; American Medical Response and Metro Rural Services &8212; have said in the past they felt Natchez didn&8217;t need three ambulance services.

Metro Rural Director Jim Graves said his business has only increased in recent years.

&8220;The police department does a very fair job of rotating calls,&8221; he said. &8220;If Emergystat was having any problems, it was strictly on their end.&8221;

Graves said Metro staffs seven or eight ambulances each day, and they stay busy all day.

AMR spokeswoman Bennie Boone released a statement Thursday saying the company was prepared to cover extra calls.

&8220;AMR has sufficient staff, equipment and ambulances for responding quickly to the calls Emergystat had received,&8221; the statement says. &8220;We have already adjusted our scheduling to ensure the public does not suffer from Emergystat&8217;s leaving the county.&8221;