With the ambulance service that covers the Ashley County’s delta area set to shut down by mid-fall, county officials are being urged to act before the situation becomes an emergency.
District 2 Justice of the Peace Carlton Lawrence raised the issue at Tuesday’s meeting of the Ashley County Quorum Court, telling the court that FAST Ambulance Service — which has been covering Hamburg and the delta area — is losing money and will be “hanging it up.”
Ashley County Medical Center Chief Executive Officer Phillip Gilmore told the quorum that FAST company officials had approached the ACMC board in April, telling the board that the company would soon be financially insolvent and would have to shut down by June 1.
The hospital board voted May 22 to enter into a services agreement with the company that would allow it to maintain its license until October.
“We have looked at their finances,” Gilmore said. “They are operating at a loss of $314,000 to run for the year.”
Those costs don’t include the purchase of new equipment to replace ambulances FAST operates that should have already been replaced, he said.
The hospital is reviewing the company’s finances on a month-by-month basis and paying what is needed to cover their break-even costs, Gilmore said.
If FAST goes out of business, there will ultimately be no ambulance coverage outside the Egypt township, which the Crossett Fire Department covers, Lawrence said.
“We need to find a solution for all the people of Ashley County,” he said.
The issue isn’t a new one.
The county government last discussed ambulance service in depth a couple of years ago, Lawrence said, but those discussions ultimately ended in stalemate as Quorum Court members balked at the suggestion of placing a tax on the ballot that would allow the county to build an ambulance service model similar to the one that Crossett has.