By Beth Christian
The Parsons Advocate
PARSONS – The Tucker County Commission hosted an interest gathering session Monday regarding ambulance service for the county. Commissioner Patrick Darlington said the meeting was to learn and become educated and find out the scope of services available to county residents.
“State code mandates the County Commission to provide EMS service,” Darlington said. “That’s why we are here. We want to find the best possible way to do that.”
ESP representative Donald Delaney said he was the vice president of ambulance operations for Emergency Site Protection.
“Thanks for inviting us here this evening,” Delaney said. “I think there was some misunderstanding about what our objective was for coming into Tucker County and talking to the people of Tucker County. I don’t feel we were having private meetings. What we were trying to do is to inform people of the services we have.”
Delaney said ESP is a national company with its main office in Texas and a secondary office in Oklahoma.
“We moved into West Virginia a couple years ago to provide safety services and fire suppression teams for the oil and gas industry. About a year and a half ago, we decided to do a cost study of what other services we could provide for oil and gas and others. We decided to do ambulance transportation because West Virginia is a large area when transporting patients. When you look at that, it is a three or four hour trip.”
Delaney said the group did a cost study and determined they wanted to open an ambulance service and did so last year in June in Jane Lew and immediately expanded into Upshur County.
“I did bring a letter for the County Commission from the Upshur County Commissioners,” Delaney said. “When we moved there, we told the commission we were not there to hurt the local service. We are not here to hurt the Tucker County local service. We addressed their concerns about taking staff from the local service.”
Delaney said they next moved into Parkersburg.
“We did the same thing. We did not address 911 calls. We tell people to call the 911 first. We do not want to be the first call. We want to be the second or third call, but we just don’t want to be last.”
Delaney said their competition is other private ambulance services.
“We have been receiving calls from local hospitals for transports in Tucker County,” Delaney said. “Two of them are Grant Memorial and Preston Memorial hospitals. They call us on a regular basis.”
Delaney said from Upshur County, it takes more than two hours to get there before the transport starts. He said he looked and determined that Tucker County would be a good place to locate to answer those calls for transport for the three hospitals – including Oakland Hospital.
“This would be good for us to provide transports for Davis Medical Center as well,” Delaney said. “A good area for us to be would be Tucker County. It would cut down on our drive time by more than an hour.”
Delaney said he wanted to stress that the company is more than just an ambulance service.
“We have security, rental equipment, fire suppression units and cooling trailers,” Delaney said. “The ambulance is just an additional part of that. We are looking into the Davis and Thomas area because it is close to Oakland.”
Delaney said his ambulances would be staffed by a paramedic 24/7. “Our objective is that if you need help and the ambulance is not available we are there to help. The side of our ambulance says to call 911. We support the local 911 services and local fire services. The only thing we are doing is getting ourselves higher on the inter facility transfer list and we are trying to position ourselves for that.”
Larry Armbruster said he was elected president of the Tucker County Ambulance Authority and said the commission would be tired of seeing him.
“I am going to make a presentation of the TCAA with goals of providing 24/7 coverage for ambulance service from two locations beginning June 1,” Armbruster said. “This is a major update. We are going to two full crews on 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That is goal number one.”
Armbruster said another goal is to reduce response time when possible.
“We are also presenting a plan to upgrade the salaries of our employees and our equipment,” Armbruster said. “We are also going to strive to have a medic on board during each call in the not too distant future.”
Darlington said the Commission was looking to adding a voluntary fee for EMS services, but said no decisions had been made as of the meeting.
Residents had the opportunity to make comments and ask questions of the commission, ESP and the Tucker County Ambulance Authority.
No decisions were made during the Monday information meeting.