Ambulance service takes issue with Cross Co. court

WYNNE, AR (KAIT) -If you live in Cross County and call 911 for an ambulance, you might get the pick of who you want to show up.

Southern Ambulance Service has served the Cross County community for over 20 years but in February another ambulance service moved in and started taking calls. Now Southern is bringing their concerns to the Quorum Court.

Southern Ambulance Service has a contract with the county to be the only ambulance service in that area, so now that another company is taking away some of their business they want to see what can be done.

"The same contract has been signed with Southern Ambulance for a long as I can go back into records," said Cross County Judge Jack Caubble.

But now both Southern Ambulance Service and Cross County Ambulance Service are taking emergency calls. Cross County Judge Jack Caubble said they had no idea another ambulance service was moving into town.

"This new company came from Forrest City and came in without notifying the county judge's office," Caubble said.

Caubble said he had a meeting with city and county officials to check on Southern's performance before renewing their contract, but he said he failed to check the small print.

"It's giving them an exclusive on the ambulance service," he said. "We do get complaints on them but if you're in any business you're going to have complaints."

And now Southern has brought their concerns to the Quorum Court.

"They are claiming they are losing money because this other service is in Cross County," Caubble said.

Southern CEO Gary Padget said Cross County Ambulance Service is mainly given calls from CrossRidge Hospital, which amounts to about 40 a month.

"All of the calls at this point that come through 911 is answered by a Southern Ambulance crew," said Gary Padget, CEO of Southern Ambulance Service.

And their contract doesn't expire until March of 2015.

"I'm not at odds with the county, I think we're both on the same side of the fence trying to figure out a resolution," Padget said.

The county's attorney plans to discuss the laws that regulate who can have a contract with an ambulance service. Caubble said he hopes they can work out a solution that profits the citizens of Cross County.

"Since this new one has came into town, it seems to have made things go better," Caubble said.

I stopped by the Cross County Ambulance Service office located across from the county courthouse.  I was told the manager was out of town and would give me a call but he never did.

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