Lee Co. Commission discusses Smiths Station ambulance services

AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - The Lee County commission chamber was full Monday, September 29, as officials from county fire departments and the East Alabama Medical Center discussed ambulance services.

Commissioner Gary Long of District 3 asked for the agreement between EAMC and Lee County to exclude Smiths Station for the 2015 Fiscal Year budget.

"If this keeps riding like it is and Care has no choice, but to pull out their ambulances out of Smiths Station, we're going to be right back where we were five or six years ago with one ambulance," explains Long.

At no cost to tax payers, two Life Star Response, or Care, ambulances now sit at the Smiths Station Volunteer Fire Department.

Lee County 911 is dispatching EMS ambulances to Smiths Station, while the volunteer fire department is sending Care ambulances to the same call.

Both sides agree that something has to be done about response time, for example, when an ambulance coming from Opelika takes 30 minutes to make it to patients in Smiths Station.

"It has worked so much better with Care being there. There is absolutely no reason for a third ambulance in Smiths Station," says Long.

The contract with EAMC is an agreement between Auburn, Opelika and Lee County.

Failing to sign the contract this week would have halted all ambulance services for the county.

"We've got a group here saying we need to make a change, but this has to be done by the county has a whole," explains Lee County Commissioner Johnny Lawrence of District 2.

After much discussion, the commission signed the contract, but is still dedicated to meeting the needs of Smiths Station residents and will hold a work session October 20.

"So far nothing has been done," explains Chief Joe Walden of the Smiths Station Volunteer Fire Department, "We just need to get this finished because if it comes down to ETS staying, Care may pull their ambulances out and that just puts us in the same position as before."