Pickens County leaders develop new plans for ambulance service

PICKENS COUNTY, Ala. (WCBI) – Access to reliable ambulance service is a problem in rural America, and it’s a problem residents in Pickens County are all too familiar with.

Getting patients to a hospital has been a struggle since Pickens County Medical Center shut its doors in 2020.

Leaders across Pickens County believed that an ambulance service is a basic right for their citizens.

After struggling to get patients to and from the hospital over the past four years, county leaders have worked out one aspect of getting reliable ambulance service – a revenue source.

Under the plan, one unit operates 24 hours a day. Another provides 16 hours of service. Allowing more than one ambulance to be on duty in the county.

Edgar Calloway, the Operations Director for EMS and Pickens County Ambulance Service, said having two ambulances is critical for citizens.

“Every patient in Pickens County that calls 911 must be transported out of the county for hospitalization,” Calloway said. “I can’t even begin to explain how critical that piece of it is caused when one ambulance is gone, if somebody gets sick, there is nobody to respond. You probably need more than two, but two is a minimum.”

Mayor Mickey Walker of Carrollton said he sees a need for the service every day. And this ensures there’s another ambulance ready to go when the one is occupied.

“Just this morning we had a wreck on 86 towards Pickensville,” Walker said. “It had the ambulance tied up for probably an hour and a half. During that hour and a half, if someone else would call, we had no help for them.”

The cost of this service is $330,000 a year. Part of the funding will come from municipalities, and the other funding will come from the county.

Manager of the Pickens County Ambulance Service, Vicky McCrory said she knows this won’t fix all the problems, but it will help, and they are working to get the staff back up to par.

“With the subsidies also came raises, so that will get us back up to our neighboring county pay scale, so we’ll be able to compete with other counties for the first time in years,” McCrory said.

Walker says ideally, they’d like to have the emergency room open again, but that would not be an easy or quick process.

“I believe even if we had the money right now, the time frame would be a year to two years. Our senators and representatives are in session right now battling to get us funding for that,” Walker said. “We’ve got to get this healthcare done first. I know exporting stuff out of Mobile is important, but our lives are important. We’ve got to get this funding, and that needs to come first for all these hospitals struggling.”

The tax fund budget for the Pickens County Ambulance Service will take effect on April 1.

For 24/7 news and updates, follow us on Facebook and X

Categories: Featured, Local News