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Multiple Ambulance Services Lead to Quicker Response Time

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DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) -The city of Decatur has two separate ambulance services. Now, one of them is taking the other one to court. Decatur Emergency Medical Services, or DEMSI, wants to protect the monopoly they've had for the last 14 years. But that decision is now up to the court system.

In June of this year, First Response began answering ambulance calls in the River City. It means there are now more emergency vehicles available and more trained emergency personnel to respond to calls for help. but there's a problem.

City officials say because of the sheer number of calls, it often took too long to get a DEMSI ambulance. So the city opened the door to competition, and First Response got a license to operate. Emergency dispatchers say it was a life-saving move. Ryan Werty, the Morgan County 911 Director, says ambulances are now getting where they're needed around 90 seconds quicker than before. That can mean the difference between life and death.

The owners of DEMSI have asked for a court injunction to stop First Response from operating in Decatur claiming lost revenue could impact their ability to serve the area.

DEMSI's attorney, Jeffrey Chapman, says they question whether city officials violated their own ordinances when they granted First Response a license.  He says a ruling on the injunction is expected within the next 30 days.

Until that time, both companies will continue to provide ambulance service to Decatur residents.