First responders and elected officials ask tough questions regarding ambulance service

Double Springs assistant fire chief Brandon Lewis expresses concerns regarding RPS.

DOUBLE SPRINGS - Regional Paramedical Services - the main ambulance service provider for Winston County -  faced the heat from a large crowd of emergency responders gathered Tuesday, April 24, to voice a strong protest to ways RPS has handled themselves on scenes.
Emergency responders comprising every fire department and/or rescue squad in Winston County, along with the Winston County Sheriff’s Office and other agencies were joined at the meeting by Arley Mayor Chris Tyree, Double Springs Mayor Elmo Robinson, Winston County commissioners, as well as State Senator Paul Bussman, State Representative Tim Wadsworth, officials with the Alabama Forestry Commission, Winston County Emergency Management and an official from Air Evac.
RPS set up a presentation at the front of the room conducted by Director of Operations Eric Pendley, explaining their stance on patient care, response times and overall manner of service, listing numerous figures and statistics.
However, this did not satisfy many in the audience, who spoke out about the company’s methods on various scenes.
Arley Fire Chief James Rickett noted the department was on a scene where a helicopter had already landed to transport the person.  An ambulance from RPS arrived on the scene, picked up the patient and left the helicopter on the ground.
“The patient died the next day.  That is ridiculous,” Rickett told the Alabamian after the meeting. “The patient is still in the ambulance and our guy was in the back of the ambulance. They chunked our guy out of the back of the ambulance and tore  out,” Rickett exclaimed. “Our fireman was in there to help the patient.
“Money is what’s talking. It’s not patient care,” Rickett pointed out. “It’s hurting the people. It’s hurting their care. It’s taking them longer to get to their care. ”
Rickett, like other emergency responders, agrees that first responders don’t care how a patient is transported, as long as the patient is transported in a timely fashion to the care the patient needs.
“I don’t care what (RPS) says.  It’s not patient care,” Rickett pointed out. “It’s money.”
Robinson noted all of the agencies need to work together.
“It concerns me when you have a helicopter circling and they (RPS) cancel it, then bring in another helicopter  from a different company. That upsets me,” Robinson said.
He was referring to RPS’ ambulance service - RAMS or Regional Air Medical Services - which many emergency responders claim battles Air Evac fover who will be the first to transport.
Other issues brought up during the meeting concerned RPS’ response times, which can sometimes be 45 minutes on the east side of the county in Arley and Addison, officials claim.



See complete story in the May 2, edition of The Northwest Alabamian.
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