LAUDERDALE COUNTY, AL (WAFF) - Folks in Lauderdale County will soon have a new ambulance provider.
Shoals Ambulance Service will take over coverage for all areas in Lauderdale County, including the city of Florence, at midnight.
Both the city and county accepted a bid to adopt their services earlier this year.
The switch ends Lauderdale County's partnership with LEMS.
Not only is CEO Bryan Gibson ensuring the best services to the community; he's taking the extra step to help protect his employees on the job - requiring them to wear helmets.
"The back of an ambulance is an unsafe place. We're driving high rates of speed through red lights and stop signs," said Gibson. "Hopefully they stop and they should, but things happen and sometimes people don't see us and we get hit."
SAS is one of the first departments in the country to require their employees to wear helmets while responding to emergencies.
Gibson said employee safety is crucial when serving the community.
"We wanted to focus on making sure that the paramedics and EMTs are getting home at night," he said.
Blake Hargett has served as a paramedic for more than 30 years. He said he is 100 percent behind the new policy.
"It's the first time we've had the technology to get into a wreck scene or to other violent situations where we have protection with our head," said Hargett.
The helmets also include an adjustable face shield to help protect responders from blood and other bodily fluids they come into contact with.
"It's a professionalism too. We feel more professional, nice uniform, nice helmets," Hargett said. "We feel more comfortable, more involved, more professional - like the police or the fire department."
Ambulance officials said the use of helmets is a growing trend across the country.