The Pikeville City Commission approved an agreement this week which will see the city provide ambulance service to a neighboring municipality.
At a meeting Monday, the commission approved entering into an inter-local agreement with the City of Coal Run Village to provide ambulance service for Coal Run. The agreement was approved by unanimous vote.
Pikeville City Manager Philip Elswick told the News-Express in a follow-up interview that Pikeville and Coal Run had been in discussions for much of the year about the possibility of Pikeville providing ambulance service to Coal Run. He said Coal Run officials had expressed concern about lengthy response times by LifeGuard Ambulance Service, which currently serves the city, to some emergency calls.
LifeGuard is a subsidiary of parent company American Medical Response (AMR).
Elswick said Pikeville is prepared to assist Coal Run Village.
“We took a look at it and we determined that we can provide the service they need without causing any adverse impact to the service we provide to residents of Pikeville,” Elswick said. “We have sufficient staff and we have sufficient equipment to do this.”
Elswick said Pikeville applied for a Certificate of Need in order to allow the city to provide ambulance service to Coal Run. He said once the inter-local agreement approved during Monday’s meeting was composed, Pikeville rescinded its application and will move forward without a certificate of need.
Coal Run Mayor Andrew Scott issued a statement to the News-Express on Tuesday praising the agreement, which must still receive regulatory approval from state agencies.
“(Lengthy response times are) a problem the entire county is dealing with right now,” Scott said. “Lives are being lost. The (Coal Run) City Commission and I are just grateful that Coal Run residents will no longer have to wait 20-plus minutes for basic life support measures to be administered.”
Elswick said there will be no cost to Coal Run as a result of Pikeville providing ambulance coverage. He also said Pikeville will not be an exclusive ambulance provider for Coal Run, but instead will be “another provider” and will see an increase in call volume.
“We have a great relationship with the commission in Coal Run and our cities work very well together, so we’re happy to help out a neighbor in this situation,” Elswick said. “It’s a service they needed and it’s a service we can provide, so we’re happy to step up and help.”
Scott criticized American Medical Response, alleging that slow response times have cost lives in emergency situations.
“AMR response times are no better than TranStar, and I know of at least two cases in Coal Run where a patient has died as a result,” Scott said in a statement to the News-Express. “When you have a patient bleeding out, or not breathing, you can’t wait 20-plus minutes for an ambulance to arrive.”