WSAZ Investigates | Magoffin County reviews options for new ambulance service

Published: Dec. 20, 2021 at 7:47 PM EST
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MAGOFFIN COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) - Improvements to emergency responses in Eastern Kentucky could soon become a reality.

The change come after a WSAZ Investigation in September revealed an ambulance wasn’t available during more than a dozen emergencies in Magoffin County. Each time, a crew from a neighboring county had to respond, according to 911 logs.

“We’ve had the experience where we’re at level zero, and that is just not acceptable,” said Matthew Wireman, Magoffin County Judge-Executive.

Three months later, the issue is still happening.

WSAZ dug through 911 logs from September through mid-December, and they show an ambulance wasn’t available within the county an additional 44 times.

“We’re optimistic things will be on the upside real soon,” Wireman said.

Magoffin County worked for more than a year to get a license from the state for a new ambulance service. A hearing was initially scheduled in June 2020 at the state Capitol but was never held due to the pandemic.

WSAZ reached out on the county’s behalf to state leaders.

Less than two weeks after WSAZ’s story aired, Magoffin County was granted the license to operate an ambulance.

Three months later, the county is ready to move forward and find a provider that best meets the needs of the community.

After putting out a bid request to regional companies, Wireman says the county received two options for a new service.

The first option comes with a high price exceeding more than $1.2 million.

“We would have to take general fund tax dollars and reallocate them to an ambulance service,” Wireman said. “The only other option would be at some point next year to adopt a resolution and add an ambulance tax to an already enormous tax bill. We’re already one of the poorest counties in the state, and adding an additional burden on the citizens of this county is not something I want to do.”

Wireman said the second option would allow a private company to operate through a mutual-aid agreement with the county. The private company would handle staffing, vehicles maintenance, and operations.

The company told Wireman they would staff at a minimum of two ambulances within the county at all times.

“They said the only way there wouldn’t be is if we’ve had two emergencies, and they both have to run out for a minimal short period while one is enroute this way,” Wireman said.

Magoffin County Fiscal Court must choose and approve the company.

A decision could be made as early as Tuesday, Dec. 21 when leaders from one of the proposed companies are expected to speak at 6 p.m.

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