N.C. County investigating woman's claim she had to drive to meet ambulance

The woman said Robeson County EMS workers would not drive an ambulance to her house on a dirt road for fear of damaging the vehicle


Jessica Horne
The Robesonian, Lumberton, N.C.

LUMBERTON, N.C. — An investigation is underway after a woman said Robeson County EMS workers would not drive an ambulance to her house for fear of damaging the vehicle.

Katie Locklear, who lives on a dirt road off Rennert Road, said the incident occurred about 8:17 p.m. Monday after she passed out at her home during a medical event. Locklear took to Facebook Thursday about 9:34 p.m. to share her experience.

"My family was told EMS could not come to my home to get me because they had recently purchased new trucks and was afraid the limbs would scratch the truck up," she wrote. "Just curious has anyone else been told by EMS that they could not come down a dirt road or was afraid of damaging or scratching up a new EMS truck.

"My family members had to put me in one of their vehicles and meet the EMS truck."

Locklear told The Robesonian on Friday that EMS workers riding in a neighbor's car met them on the road, at which time care was rendered. Locklear also said that if the newly purchased ambulances are damaged while responding to calls, the county can pay for repairs using money paid by taxpayers like her.

"I think everybody needs to be aware that, you know, it's not acceptable," Locklear said.

Nine other people live on her road, Locklear said. She's concerned about the possibility of elderly people dying because they fell and couldn't get to the ambulances.

"It's still under investigation," said Patrick Cummings, EMS director. "It did happen, and we're reviewing it."

The EMS personnel got into a neighbor's car and drove back to Locklear's home, according to Locklear. She was coming out of the home and was placed in the vehicle.

"There was no delay in patient care," he said.

There are several roads throughout the county that are challenges for ambulances to navigate, he said. But there are other vehicles such as a Utility Task Vehicle, Tahoe or Durango that medical workers can use to get to a home.

"We're going to use every means possible to get to you," Cummings said.

Dr. Tim Smith, Robeson County EMS medical director, said the EMS service strives to provide the best care possible for county residents every day.

"That's the only reason we're here to start with is to help people," Smith said.

"We want to continue to do that," he added. "We're not going to tolerate anything less than that."

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(c)2021 The Robesonian

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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