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Counties not affected by ambulance shutdown

Area counties will not be impacted by an ambulance service’sunexpected decision Wednesday to discontinue operations, officialssaid.

The only county in the area that was still contracted withEmergystat was Amite County, but officials there took preventativemeasures to ensure that an ambulance service would be availableafter the service stopped at midnight.

Amite County Emergency Management Agency Director Sam Walsh saidhis county was already in talks with Triple A Ambulance Service,which moved in to cover the county temporarily before Emergystatshut down.

“Triple A out of Hattiesburg was on scene when Emergystatstopped service at midnight – their truck actually got here at11:45,” Walsh said.

Lawrence County and Pike County were previously contracted withEmergystat, but both counties have discontinued their associationswith the service and switched to Triple A.

This morning, Walsh said he would be meeting with Triple Aofficials later in the day to discuss a contract to make theservice the ambulance provider for all of Amite County. Triple Awas already serving the fourth and fifth districts of the county ina backup role to Emergystat.

“Triple A was already under contract with Southwest RegionalMedical Center in McComb,” Walsh said. “They cover two of ourdistricts. So, by virtue of that contract with Southwest, wealready had some Triple A coverage in the county. They were kindenough last night to provide coverage to the whole county until wecan get formed up.”

Walsh said Amite County had already been negotiating a deal withTriple A for about a month.

“We were talking about switching services to Triple A, just incase this happened with Emergystat,” he said. “We kinda’ thought itmight happen, but we didn’t think it would happen so soon.”

Other counties in the area, also currently served by Triple A,made the switch in ambulance services long before Emergystat’scrisis.

“We changed to Triple A a little over a year ago,” said LawrenceCounty’s District 4 Supervisor Glen Grubbs. “We had a lot ofcomplaints on the service they were giving.”

When Lawrence County’s Emergystat contract expired, the countyopted against renewal.

Grubbs said the fee for Triple A’s services are steep, about$250,000 per year – more than double the price of the contract withEmergystat. However, Grubbs said coverage in the county hadimproved under the new provider.

“With Triple A, we have two ambulances in the county, whereaswith Emergystat we only had one,” he said. “And a lot of the time,it was sitting on the county line somewhere, working twocounties.”

Lawrence County residents were not the only south Mississippiansto complain to their local governments about Emergystat’sservices.

“We were covered by Emergystat until last year when we opted fora new contract with Triple A around the first of November,” saidRichard Coghlan, Pike County Civil Defense director. “We just hadsome complaints about Emergystat’s service in the county, and ourboard of supervisors, as well as our hospital (Southwest), decidedthat they’d be better served by Triple A.”

Emergystat, based in Vernon, Ala., notified Mississippiofficials late Wednesday that it had halted operations. Accordingto the Associated Press, the company said it had lost its liabilityinsurance and no longer could transport patients.

Mississippi was not the only state affected by the shutdown.Emergystat’s operations in Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia, Louisiana,Kansas and Florida also ceased at midnight Wednesday, according tothe company.