HARTSELLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Three ambulances were repossessed from Hartselle-based County EMS Monday evening. No explanation for the action was immediately available.
Repo agents seized two of the vehicles from County EMS offices on Highway 31 around 7PM. Another was seized at a different location in Hartselle a half-hour earlier. All of the vehicles were carried to a grocery store parking lot in Hartselle where the contents of each vehicle was inventoried. Agents with the Morgan County Drug Task Force participated in the inventory process only because of the cache of medications carried in each vehicle. The ambulances were then transported to a storage facility in Muscle Shoals.
A County EMS employee told WHNT News 19 the company would remain in operation despite the loss. He said they would begin the task of attempting to reclaim the vehicles first thing Tuesday morning.
Meanwhile, Hartselle Fire Chief Steve Shelton says residents need not worry about emergency medical and ambulance services. Shelton says County EMS has borrowed an ambulance to use as a back-up vehicle for now. The company was left with two ambulances after the others were repossessed. The unit borrowed from Brindley Mountain will give the company three ambulances to cover Hartselle and Falkville. Shelton says Cross Roads Ambulance has agreed to station one of their vehicle’s and crew at I-65 and Highway 36 near Hartselle. Decatur’s two ambulance services, First Response and DEMSI, have both promised to station vehicles at Hartselle Mountain on Highway 31.
“We’ve actually got better coverage now than we had before all of this,” Shelton said.
The action left County EMS employees in shock Monday evening, most still grieving from the sudden death on January 17th of longtime company owner, Terry Scott Garwood. Garwood had been in the ambulance business in the Hartselle area for many years. He’s remembered as a local pioneer, guiding the transition of emergency medical services in Hartselle from the era before there were paramedics, EMT’s, and portable defibrillators to today’s highly trained, equipped and licensed personnel capable of administering life-saving drugs in the field, long before they’re able to move a patient to one of the area’s hospitals.
– Al Whitaker