HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Starting January 1, 2024, emergency medical services across North Alabama and parts of Tennessee will all be under one entity – the Huntsville Hospital System.

This new marriage will allow them to cover and provide more care across the Tennessee Valley.

“It’ll still be individual services covered in their counties like always for the most part, but it makes mutual aid that much easier,” said Huntsville Hospital President and Chief Operating Officer Tracy Doughty. “For example, it’ll take a couple of years to get there but once it’s all baked for instance god forbid 20 people at HEMSI get the flu we can bring over other people from other counties to help.”

And the hospital is already making some additions as a result of the merger.

“We are in the process we’ve ordered actually 10 new ambulances for the system,” Doughty added.

Now that HEMSI and Huntsville Hospital are under one entity, some questions may be raised… like will all emergency services be automatically directed to Huntsville Hospital?

“It’s patient choice. If a patient says they want to go to my local hospital, that’s where they go. Any EMS in the state would divert somewhere else – one if they couldn’t get an airway, two if the patient is not breathing or they can’t stop the bleeding, then they stop at the closest hospital but patient choice trumps everything,” Doughty said.

As for how this merger affects HEMSI, the President of HEMSI’s board David Blair says the merger provides more financial stability.

“They’re will be some extra buying power since the hospital can buy ambulances for six different systems including ours. They’ll be able to do things at a lower price, bigger quantities things like that,” Blair said. “They’re also really good at education so there will be some opportunities for us to expand. For us, we have an EMT academy. We might be able to go forward with an advanced EMT academy, so there will be opportunities”

And for anyone who may be wondering what look the HEMSI vehicles will have post-merger, Blair also confirmed that the yellow and blue look will stay in the future.