Jobless First Med employees await final paycheck
Employees affected by last week's unexpected mass layoffs were told they wouldn't get their final paychecks before Christmas
Dayton Daily News
DAYTON, Ohio — Dozens of people in Dayton are among thousands of employees of a massive private ambulance company left suddenly jobless and told they wouldn't get their final paycheck before Christmas when the company folded without notice last week.
The company, MedCorp, operated under several names locally, including American Ambulette and Ambulance Company, Life Ambulance and First Med.
It filed for bankruptcy in federal court Wednesday under the name Eastern Shore Ambulance, Inc.
"So many of us live week-to-week off a paycheck. We were expecting a paycheck this week," said Ryan Harmon, a paramedic and one of more than 50 people who worked at the company's location on Jergens Road in Dayton.
"It's just frustrating that two weeks before Christmas they're laying everybody off," he said.
Harmon received notice from the company the same day expressing regret that workers' final paychecks will be handled as part of the bankruptcy proceedings.
The company had more than 70 offices in 6 states -- 18 in Ohio including offices in Dayton, Cincinnati and Columbus.
The Ohio Department of Job and family Services received and passed along notice of the closure Wednesday, saying more than 500 workers will be affected in Ohio.
Included in the state's notice was a letter to employees dated Dec. 6 saying the company was folding "for financial reasons and due to failure to obtain investment or continued funding."
The letter said they were unable to give notice "because of the unforeseen business circumstances relating to our lenders' recent decision not to extend further funding to continue operating and sending notices earlier would have jeopardized our effort to obtain further funding."
The lack of warning led one employee in Toledo to file a federal class action lawsuit on behalf of an estimated 2,000 workers, saying the lack of notice violated federal law by not giving its employees 60 days notice.
The Dayton office was locked up Friday, with a hand-written sign in the window saying "Company Closed Effective 12/6/13." The parking lot contained 11 trucks and ambulances, several covered in snow.
Calls to the listed number for the company were not answered. Messages also were left with the bankruptcy trustee and with the phone number employees were directed to call for further information.
Harmon said the company sent several trucks to Alabama a couple weeks ago. He wasn't told why. He had no knowledge the company was on the ropes until his boss called him the night of Dec. 6 and told him the company was shutting down.
He had worked there a little more than five months, he said, previously out of the Springfield office which shut down at the end of October to consolidate in Dayton.
"Being unemployed right away and having no job on a Friday evening was just abrupt," he said
The company was owned by the New York based firm Enhanced Equity Fund, though it was removed this week from EEF's online listing of companies.
American Ambulette and Ambulance was once headquartered in Dayton. A cache'd version of the company's now shut down website says the various ambulance companies were consolidated under the First Med umbrella in 2011 and had 70 offices in 6 states with more than 650 vehicles providing more than 500,000 patient transports a year. It is headquartered in Wilmington, NC.
Local hospital officials said they won't be affected because the company focused mostly on transportation for nursing homes and other non-emergent care.
The biggest impact may be felt by the employees left unemployed weeks before Christmas.
"Your loss of employment is expected to be permanent," the letter to employees says.
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