Ambulance Problems Risk Lives

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - A report from a governor's task force says Oklahoma's emergency ambulance systems are so short of money and manpower that lives are in jeopardy.

The report called "Critical and Unstable" says in a worst-case scenario the state's emergency medical system could collapse. That would leave rural residents who call 9-1-1 being told to provide basic care to the patient and take the best transportation available to the nearest hospital.

Ten ambulance services in the state have recently closed. Health officials blame cuts in Medicare reimbursement, uninsured and underinsured patients, a rapidly aging population and funding shortfalls as reasons for the problems.

The report has been given to the state Board of Health with a final report due Oct. 1.