Ala. city has 30 days to find provider

First Response has temporarily stepped in after a local provider closed, but will not be able to provide service for an extended period of time

By Briana Harris
The Decatur Daily

HARTSELLE, Ala. — First Response will not be able to provide ambulance service in Hartselle for an extended period, Fire Chief Steve Shelton told the City Council during a Monday night work session.

Decatur-based First Reponse has been providing ambulance service for Hartselle and Falkville since the two cities' service, Sommerville-based Crossroads Ambulance, ceased operations Wednesday.

First Response has agreed to provide service for Hartselle for the next 30 days, Shelton said. This creates a small window for the city to secure a permanent provider.

Shelton said the city's ambulance ordinance needs to be updated before proposals seeking applications for ambulance providers can be sent out.

Shelton said the reason for the 30-day limit is Hartselle's low emergency transport volume, along with no opportunities for non-emergency transport within the city, to places such as nursing homes.

"I'm going to continue working with First Response for as long as possible until changes can be made in the ambulance ordinance," Shelton said.

First Response operations manager David Childers didn't attend Monday night's council meeting, but he and Shelton said previously First Reponse has been able to fill the void left by Crossroads so far.

Shelton has said he is in daily contact with Childers, "and so far the partnership is working well."

Last week, Childers said First Response has hired employees from Crossroads, so its Decatur service will not be impacted by the extra workload in Hartselle and Falkville.

"First Response has 16 units, and we will be adding another unit within a week," Childers said via email to The Decatur Daily.

He said accommodations have been made for First Response crews to stay overnight in both cities. In Hartselle, overnight crews are lodging in a fire department camper. In Falkville, crews are staying at the fire station.

Hartselle leaders had hoped First Response would provide services for the remainder of the year.

The city council will meet again tonight at 7 in City Hall.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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