A few of the 15 to 20 people in attendance at the Red Springs fire station questioned the new system and favored having an ambulance continue to be stationed at the fire station 24 hours a day.
Neal Franklin, general manager of ETMC Emergency Medical Services, fielded their questions, explained how the new system will operate and described benefits that EMS sees.
It will provide better response times, more efficiency and be easier to manage, Franklin said of the new system.
“We are not taking away ambulance service; we’re just not going to be 24 hours at the fire station,” Franklin said.
Under the System Status Management system that will be implemented in the Red Springs zip code on Sunday, EMS will strategically place ambulances throughout the area, Franklin explained. An ambulance is currently stationed at the fire station 24 hours a day.
A 12-hour shift will be followed by another 12-hour shift at chosen sites under the new plan, Franklin said, or there might be nine-hour shifts. Ambulances are moved around as needed when an ambulance goes out on a call, he said.
Rather than having an ambulance confined at a fire station, an ambulance posted at a strategic location can respond quicker, Franklin said.
The System Status Management system ends up more efficient, he said, emphasizing that EMS is a not-for-profit service that still has to provide the ambulances, staffing, fuel and pay bills.
Research showed 875 calls in the past fiscal year from the Red Springs zip code, which includes some of Lindale, of which 250 were covered by the Red Springs ambulance and three-quarters were covered by other system trucks.
That will start Sunday with an ambulance being posted at the intersection of Farm-to-Market Road 14 and Interstate 20, he announced.
“We will study it as (the new system) moves forward,” Franklin said.
Susie Stewart, who lives near Tyler State Park, said a lot of the people living in the area are elderly and don’t want to wait for an ambulance to come from Whitehouse, Bullard or another city.
Franklin assured residents that EMS is not leaving them. There is a possibility an ambulance might in the future sit at the fire station if the need is shown, Franklin said.