Md. family-run ambulance service closes its doors
The service had four ambulances and specialized in patient transports, but a decrease in calls have put the company out of business
By Mike Sawyers
Cumberland Times News
FROSTBURG, Md. — The lights of the Allegany Ambulance Service vehicles flashed for the last time Monday as owners Roy and Dottie Troutman closed the Frostburg business they have operated since 1982.
The calls for their four ambulances have decreased dramatically in recent years, the Troutmans said, making it impossible to keep open the business that specialized in patient transports.
“In 2006 we had 2,637 calls. In 2013 there were 819, and so far this year there have been 368,” Dottie said.
The last two calls were Monday morning.
“I’m devastated by this,” Roy said during an interview at the Troutman’s West Main Street home, which doubled as an office for the business. “I feel bad for all the people we’ve known, not just our (11) employees, but all the patients who knew us by first names.”
And there were a number of first names. “This was a family business,” Roy said. On the payroll at one time or another were sons, a daughter, a sister-in-law and a grandson.
The grandson, Roy Troutman III, said Monday he had been planning to keep the business going as his grandparents moved toward retirement. “This is the only job I had for the past 10 years, since I was 16,” he said.
Many of the calls for patient transport were from nursing homes to the local hospital and back again.
Roy said Allegany was still getting calls from the nursing homes, but had lost the return trips from the Western Maryland Regional Medical Center back to the long-term care facilities.
“It worked much better for us when there were two hospitals,” Roy said.
The Troutmans bought the business a year after it was opened by Terry McKenzie and Sam Dudley. In the decades that followed, Allegany would keep up to five ambulances on the road and employ as many as 20.
“There were days when we had three transports for open heart surgery to the Washington, D.C. hospitals,” Roy said. “And also to Johns Hopkins. There were days when I spent 20 hours driving an ambulance. Days of 16 hours were the norm.”
The trips to the urban hospitals for heart repair dwindled when those procedures became available locally.
Because their company was a commercial operation, the Troutmans point out they were not eligible for government grants.
“So many of our former employees have made us proud with what they have gone on to do such as becoming paramedics,” Dottie said.
The Troutmans said they will put their ambulances and associated medical equipment up for sale.
|McClatchy-Tribune News Service|