Residents, County official raising concerns over Shoals Ambulance service

Shoals Ambulance has been servicing Lauderdale County since 2016, but even county officials are questioning its ability to serve the area.
Published: Jun. 24, 2022 at 7:33 PM CDT
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LAUDERDALE CO., Ala. (WAFF) - Several people in Lauderdale County are raising concerns over the Shoals Ambulance service.

James Smith lives in Lauderdale County. He says one day his wife’s great uncle collapsed and struggled to breathe. Smith was a paramedic for almost 30 years. He said it took entirely too long for the ambulance to arrive.

“By the time the ambulance showed up that man died in my arms,” said Smith. “The two people from the ambulance argued amongst themselves because of a paperwork error about whether or not they were going to do CPR or not, the whole time nobody is doing CPR.”

Chapel King is a registered nurse from Lauderdale County. She had questions about the treatment her father received while being transported to the hospital by a Shoals Ambulance while experiencing a heart attack.

“They were supposed to use medications like nitroglycerin morphine oxygen,” explained King. “He did not receive those. They were supposed to transmit the EKG to the hospital and they did not do that.”

Now, a county official is questioning whether the five ambulances can continue to provide quality emergency response to cover its 700-plus square miles.

Lauderdale County Commission Chair Danny Pettus says the ambulance service has reported multiple zero-status situations in the last six months. Zero-status situations mean no ambulances are available at the time of an emergency call.

“I’m not sure what our problem is where we’re having more zero-status in the last six months, even in the city limits we haven’t been able to figure exactly what’s contributing to this,” said Pettus. “I know I don’t like it.”

Shoals Ambulance released the following statement when asked about the above concerns:

Shoals Ambulance is proud to have served the people of Lauderdale County and the City of Florence with emergency and non-emergency ambulance service for more than a decade. In 2022, the Lauderdale County ambulance service contract was scheduled for a competitive procurement process on its regularly scheduled cycle. Shoals Ambulance is currently operating on contract extensions while the County completes that process.

Shoals Ambulance works closely with Lauderdale County and the City of Florence in regards to our service delivery.

The Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) regulates EMS certifications and scope of practice for all EMS professionals. Lauderdale County ambulances are staffed with certified EMS professionals to meet state requirements.

Florence City and Lauderdale County officials plan to vote on whether to renew the Shoals Ambulance contract in July.

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