Ambulance update: Reece hires Southern Paramedic to serve GF

Friday, June 23, 2017

Green Forest Mayor Charles Reece has hired Southern Paramedic Service to provide emergency ambulance service in Green Forest.

Reece said he met with representatives on Tuesday morning and made a verbal agreement between the city and the ambulance service, which is headquartered in Brinkley.

“They will provide ambulance service per a verbal agreement between myself, Southern Paramedic Services and the city of Green Forest,” he said, “until the folks at the Eastern Carroll County Ambulance District Commission award a contract to a service, at which point this agreement will become null and void.”

Reece said this agreement is a temporary arrangement, and the city of Green Forest will abide by the commission’s decision once a solution is reached.

“There is no cost to the city at this point in time,” he said, “but Southern Paramedic Services has agreed to pay $750 a month rent for a space at the fire station.”

The rental agreement will be effective as of July 1, he said.

“I’m authorized to do this just for the city of Green Forest,” Reece said. “They will be working out of the Green Forest Volunteer Fire Department. If there are instances that occur outside the city limits, I have verbally agreed that there is no problem with them going outside and doing what they have to do to protect lives.”

He said he made the decision after Green Forest residents and Tyson Foods expressed concerns about the lack of ambulance service.

Ozark EMS, which had provided ambulance service for the eastern portion of the county, stopped its service on June 29, six days after owner Leon Cheatham informed Carroll County Judge Sam Barr that it intended to do so.

The ambulance commission then authorized Mercy to provide emergency service east of the Kings River, with assistance from Eureka Springs Fire & EMS and ambulance services from adjoining counties.

Reece, who said he has spoken with Bob Patterson, executive director of emergency medical services for the Mercy healthcare system, said Green Forest needed more reliable ambulance coverage.

“We were about 80 percent without ambulance service,” he said. “I’ve talked to representatives of Mercy, and they understand the situation we’re in. I talked to Mr. Patterson, and I have a lot of respect for him. He said they can have the units there, but they don’t have the staffing yet. So right now, it’s going to be Southern. If Mercy can still operate through here, that’s well and good, too.”

Reece said he also informed the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office about the issue for dispatch services.

Voters approved the creation of the Eastern Carroll County Ambulance District in the November 2016 general election, along with a 2.5-mill tax to fund the district’s operation. Barr appointed five commissioners to oversee the district in January. The commission is expected to develop a Request for Proposals and ultimately award a long-term contract for an ambulance service provider, but the process is expected to take several more months.

The ambulance commission met Thursday night.

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