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Ark. city suspends volunteer ambulance service, audits chief

A large number of supporters attended a council meeting Wednesday to support the service as the city considered switching to a full-time service

By Laura French

FAIRFIELD BAY, Ark. — An Arkansas city has suspended its volunteer ambulance service and ordered an audit of the agency’s chief amid plans to potentially shut down the service and replace it with a full-time agency.

Dozens of supporters of Fairfield Bay EMS gathered outside the city hall during a special meeting Wednesday, one day after EMS Capt. Andrea Knots was placed on administrative leave, according to KATV. During the meeting, the council passed a resolution to hire an accounting firm to audit Knots, and announced the agency will be suspended from performing services in the city until the audit is complete.

“The community is outraged,” tweeted a KATV reporter who attended the meeting.

A statement released by the city said no personnel have been suspended or fired and that Medic One, the only other ambulance service in the county, will cover the city in the interim.

“With good will and the efforts of dedicated City employees, volunteers and contract personnel, we hope that this will be a short and temporary stand-down,” the statement read. “This will give us an opportunity to make the evaluations required by our human resources protocols. While we take these necessary and important administrative steps, the Mayor and the City Council extend their appreciation to all EMS volunteers, and staff.”

A Medic One representative who attended the special meeting said the agency is “going to be really stretched” and would need an additional ambulance and more personnel to fully cover the city.

The temporary suspension of Fairfield Bay EMS comes as the city is considering permanently shutting down the volunteer service and bringing in a full-time ALS service. Mayor Linda Duncan cited low volunteer staffing and the age of volunteer staff as concerns leading the city to consider bringing in a new service. Duncan also cited the city’s aging population as a factor in the need for an ALS service that can provide 24/7 coverage. Fairfield Bay EMS is a BLS agency and Medic One has been providing ALS services for the city when needed.

Watch the city council meeting below: