HARTSELLE, Ala. (WHNT) - When you dial 9-1-1, you expect help to be there. But in parts of Morgan County, that's not always the case. More ambulance problems tonight in Hartselle and Falkville. The City of Hartselle still operating under a state of emergency.
City officials in Hartselle thought they had resolved their ambulance issues a couple of weeks ago. Decatur-based First Response Ambulance agreed to provide service to the area after Crossroads Ambulance went out of business. But now, Samaritan Ambulance is covering the area. Hartselle Fire Chief Steve Shelton says within days, First Response began pulling back claiming it was too expensive to keep vehicles stationed in both Hartselle and Falkville.
"That is correct. Right now with Samaritan, they are providing an ambulance for Hartselle, one for Falkville and they have one out in the county," Shelton told WHNT News 19 Monday afternoon. But is that enough? If two calls come in at once, someone just has to wait.
We visited Hartselle Fire Department, Station Two early Monday afternoon. There's normally a Samaritan ambulance parked here but was out on a call out in the county. Coincidentially, at the very same moment, the ambulance that's normally parked in Falkville was also out on a call out in the county. It means if someone in Hartselle or Falkville needed an ambulance at that moment, the nearest one would have to come from Decatur. The same basic problem happened over the weekend when Morgan County 9-1-1 dispatchers were forced to get a Cullman ambulance to answer an emergency call in Hartselle because the EMS vehicles in Hartselle, Falkville and even in Decatur were all tied up.
"It's a very difficult situation being the fact that the City of Hartselle, we just don't have that many transports outside the city in order to make a company profitable," Shelton explains. He says Samaritan has agreed to cover Hartselle and Falkville for the next 45 days. He hopes that will give them time to come up with a permanent solution.
Shelton says city officials from Hartselle and Falkville are working with county officials on the issue. They hope to come up with a county-wide plan for emergency medical services.