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Medstar to take over local ambulance service

News Staff Writer

While few details of the deal have yet been made public, Escambia County Health Care Authority (ECHCA) officials announced July 23, that the authority has reached an agreement with Medstar Emergency Medical Services to provide comprehensive, around-the-clock ground ambulance coverage for Atmore and the surrounding area.
County healthcare officials have been working on the specifics of the agreement for almost six months, after poor response times by ASAP EMS, as well as the too-often absence of an ambulance, created a situation in which emergency medical personnel often had to be dispatched here from Monroeville.
“It’s going to happen; it’s just taking a while to get it all lined out,” Atmore Mayor Jim Staff said in February, when ASAP’s poor performance record left the city with no other option.
According to an ECHCA press release issued last week, officials have been “working with ASAP,” but the authority “has chosen to expand its existing relationship with Medstar to include the Atmore market.”
ECHCA also reported that it had reached an agreement with Medstar to provide air ambulance service for all of Escambia County. The company currently provides such coverage only for the Atmore market, and healthcare officials felt the new agreement “will provide for a one-call solution for air ambulance needs for all the citizens of Escambia County.”
The emergency response plan also includes the assumption by D.W. McMillan of responsibility for providing ground ambulance service in the Flomaton area, officials said, noting that the move will enhance ECHCA’s ability to serve the eastern half of the county.
ECHCA officials did not reveal the anticipated date of the switch-over, nor were other details immediately available.
Atmore’s two top public safety officials said they heard that a deal had been struck, but neither had yet been briefed on the details.
Police Chief Chuck Brooks, whose department dispatches ambulances, said APD would continue to do so.
“They’ll still be dispatched through us,” said Brooks. “My understanding is that (the change) is coming, but none of the details have been ironed out at the time.”
Fire Chief Ron Peebles answered in similar fashion.
“I can’t comment at this time, because I don’t know all the details,” he said.