Pickens County aims to increase funding for ambulance service

In Pickens County, staffing for emergency services is critically low

PICKENS COUNTY, Ala. (WCBI) – In Pickens County, staffing for emergency services is critically low.

Vicky McCrory is the manager of the Pickens County Ambulance Service.

She has seen first-hand people lose their lives because an ambulance was not available.

In December, a West Alabama man was struggling to breathe and no one could get to him quickly enough

“After Friday, I will only have five employees,” McCrory said. “It’s terrible. It shouldn’t be an issue in this country but it is all across rural America. Nobody should suffer for over an hour and not be able to breathe. Unfortunately, he passed away in front of his two children.”

For three years, the Pickens County Medical Center has been closed – meaning the nearest hospital for residents is either Columbus or Tuscaloosa.

Carrollton Mayor Mickey Walker says he has seen the fallout from this problem up close – too close.

“I had one die in front of city hall, one of my employees had a wife pass away and if the hospital would have been open, she could got there,” Walker said.

District 61 State Representative Ron Bolton says they are working to figure out how each town can share the cost for the ambulance service, and how they can fully staff it.

“We’re trying to make sure we can get people out to people who have medical needs so they can be transported whether it be Columbus or Tuscaloosa,” Bolton said.

Bolton says depending on the level of service, the cost could range from $314-thousand a year to $821 thousand a year.

“The towns are going to have to stretch their budget, to pay for the extra ambulance service, but we have to do it for the people,” Walker said.

Bolton says the goal is to reach a final decision by March or April on what level of service each town will receive and how much each government entity will be responsible for. Bolton says what they would like to see is the hospital in Carrollton reopening.

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