Ambulance services suspended in Smiths Station amid staffing, funding shortages
SMITHS STATION, Ala. (WTVM) - The City of Smiths Station is being forced to do away with a life-saving service they normally provide to the citizens who live there.
As News Leader 9 first learned Friday night, Smith Station Fire and Rescue is no longer providing ambulance transportation services to its residents.
When citizens in Smiths Station dial 911 for an ambulance, they’ll have to wait longer for help to arrive.
The reduction in services is a result of a shortage in staffing and funding that officials say has been made even worse by the COVID 19 Pandemic.
Right now, Smiths Station has several volunteer fire stations - stations that also provide ambulance services, or at least they did until this past Saturday.
Deputy Fire & EMS Chief Daniel Sexton says they have struggled to find enough volunteers to staff the fire stations for a number of months. Funding is also a major issue with inflation affecting fuel, maintenance, and medical supplies.
“You know, they had to take jobs at places they could get those kind of benefits and, unfortunately, that left us with vacancy we were unable to fill,” Sexton said.
Now, when someone in Smiths Station dials 911 for an ambulance, that ambulance will have to travel from Columbus or Opelika.
“If you have an emergency or heart attack, your response time is so long, the more damage that is going to be done,” said Jerry Bourgeois.
Residents News Leader 9 spoke with say something needs to be done in order to get the ambulance service back.
“You have emergencies every day and they need that service down here,” said Jennifer Cox.
Deputy Chief Sexton says the response rate for an ambulance will likely change.
“I would say it will add about ten minutes to the response time verses having an ambulances here in the community.”
Smiths Station Fire and Rescue services about 35,000 residents and averages 2,000 calls a year.
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