PHELPS, KY (WOWK) – In an emergency every second counts, and that’s what sparked a discussion in the community of Phelps, Kentucky.
The Phelps Volunteer Fire Department was full of area residents ready to discuss the hot-button issue as the Pike County Fiscal Court held a special meeting addressing the concerns of ambulance response times in the area.
The closest EMS stations are 45 minutes to an hour away, which can mean life or death in an emergency.
One issue with having the service for the area, according to the Fiscal Court, has been keeping it financially stable.
The cost to purchase one ambulance would be approximately $350,000 and the estimated total to have an operating service station would be around $750,000 to $1,000,000, which includes the cost of an ambulance.
However, financing the project is not the only obstacle. There’s also the issue of keeping the station fully staffed as they move forward.
Appalachian First Response and Lifeguard EMS, the only emergency medical service companies in the area, say they’ve seen their staff numbers drop over the years which is why it takes employees who are working an hour to 2 hours to get to areas like Phelps.
“When you call 9-1-1 and it takes longer than what it should take to get here, it’s because we’re either tied up with an emergency or everybody we have is already with someone,” Lifeguard EMS of East Kentucky Director Bill Baker says at the meeting Tuesday night.
The Fiscal Court says they are working with the Big Sandy Community and Technical College to offer EMT courses for college students and hopefully add a paramedic course in the near future.
And there have been close calls for some residents in the past, including Judge-Executive Ray Jones II’s father who had to be transported by friends to the hospital in an emergency situation.
“If we had waited for an ambulance from Pikeville, he would be dead right now,” Jones says addressing the issue during the meeting.
During the meeting, the fiscal court and the EMS companies’ representatives also heard concerns from residents and many said the same thing, they need an ambulance service.
“When you wait an hour and 45 minutes for your dad that’s had a stroke, you know that’s personal,” Pike County resident Robert Adkins says explaining a recent family emergency where they required an ambulance.
In an effort to start the process of getting an ambulance, the Fiscal Court voted to pursue a “Certificate of Need” for the area which will allow them to add a temporary station in the Phelps area.
Along with this, they will also be looking into purchasing property in the Phelps area to set up a mobile home as the single-ambulance EMS station.
The fiscal court is expected to continue discussing possible solutions in the near future.