ROGERSVILLE, Ala. — In the town of Rogersville, the volunteer fire department is known for responding to medical calls in addition to crews from Shoals Ambulance Service.
On Sunday, a Rogersville resident called 911 for a lift assist after not being able to get up. The fire department said in a Facebook post that it wasn’t being notified of those types of calls and in one situation, a patient waited 45 minutes for an ambulance when firefighters could have responded within five.
Monday morning, Volunteer Fire Chief Frankie Phillips said he discussed the issue with Lauderdale County EMA Director George Grabryan. Chief Phillips said it was a miscommunication on both sides stemming from a previous cyberattack in Florence.
“The government there in Florence, they got hacked and held for ransom, their software and everything that they had down at 911 dispatch,” Chief Phillips said. “They were going off of the old protocol that we had. In the meantime, of course, we had sent in a new protocol but they had to redo all of their email addresses and we were still sending to the old address.”
Regarding the increased wait times for ambulances, Shoals Ambulance Service Operations & EMS Director Blake Hargett said it’s an unfortunate matter seen across the country.
“There is a nationwide shortage of EMTs and paramedics nationwide and it’s showing up systemically across all the regions,” Hargett said.
Hargett added that Florence and Lauderdale County haven’t been hit as hard as larger cities but Shoals Ambulance is offering attractive incentives for those looking to start new careers in the EMS industry.
Hargett said those incentives include housing assistance for up to a year and a signing bonus of up to $15,000 for those who qualify. For more information, click here.