Ambulance service halted

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 26, 2008

NATCHEZ — The ambulance service that provided the sole emergency transportation for 23 counties, including Wilkinson, closed its doors at midnight Thursday.

Emergystat Ambulance Service officials said the closure was due to serious financial problems and a lack of liability insurance.

But the short notice the company gave has left the state and counties scrambling to fill the safety gap left by the closure.

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In Wilkinson County, where Emergystat was contracted for emergency response, the board of supervisors got word of the closure late Wednesday afternoon and declared a state of emergency, Director of Emergency Management Thomas Tolliver Jr. said.

The board responded by calling West Feliciana Parish to work out a short-term arrangement with their emergency ambulance services.

“We sent out a request for proposals so we can enter into long term arrangement from some company for emergency services,” Tolliver said.

American Medical Response, which serves Adams County and Concordia Parish, is also assisting in Wilkinson County.

“Currently we have an ambulance housed at the hospital in Centreville,” AMR Operations Supervisor Tim Houghton said.

“We have coordinated our efforts through the other service in conjunction with the (Wilkinson County) sheriff’s office to make sure we aren’t running three or four ambulances to the same place,” Houghton said.

Providing services to Wilkinson County will not come at the expense of AMR’s local customers, AMR Public Information Officer Bennie Boone said.

In fact, citizens of Adams County and Concordia Parish should see more EMS traffic in the area, Houghton said.

“We are pooling our sources from unaffected areas of the state and some folks from unaffected states are coming in to help,” Houghton said.

The Centreville ambulance will cover the southern tip of Wilkinson County, and the parts of Wilkinson County nearest Adams County and West Feliciana Parish will be covered by their respective responders.