Rural Ambulance Services A Rarity

January 27, 2005 – Posted 4:24 p.m. CST MANILA -- If you live in rural America and have an ambulance service, consider yourself lucky. The services can be a real drain on a small town's budget.
The town of Manila fought for its one ambulance, but when an emergency happened the paramedics were nowhere around. A Manila man was working on his truck when it slipped off the jack, crushing him.
“His wife was outside screaming and hollering,” said neighbor Steven Green.
Green jacked the truck off of his neighbor and called 911. Firefighters and police came right away, but they had to wait for paramedics. Even though Manila's ambulance station was only about a mile away from the accident scene witnesses say 15 minutes passed before paramedics showed up.
That's because they came from Blytheville, which is nearly 20 miles away. The Manila ambulance was out of town because…
“For us to do business in Manila we do transports from surrounding hospitals to Memphis and Little Rock,” said Medic One President Ryan Kibler.
Medic One says they have to keep their Manila ambulance moving or they won't make a profit.
“To have one ambulance cost about $200,000 dollars a year,” said Kibler.
And there aren't enough emergencies in rural towns to cover that cost, so companies have to find other ways to make money, like hospital transports.
“We do not have to ask Manila for a bigger subsidy or pull out of their community, because we want to be there for Manila,” said Kibler.
Meaning the choices for most of rural America are either have an ambulance most of the time, or not at all.
Five Craighead County towns are without ambulance service at all. Those towns are Lake city, Brookland, Bay, Bono and Cash.