Colbert EMS fighting to stay in service

COLBERT, Okla. (KXII) - Emergency medical service is hanging on by a thread in Colbert.

At Monday night's city council meeting, the mayor said Colbert EMS is at risk of losing their license.

Colbert Mayor Roxanne Reed said Colbert EMS is not in compliance with the state since they stopped covering at least 90 percent of their calls since June.

And for the past several months, there's been plenty of days they've been out of service, so they had to call in back-up from the county.

"Us as Bryan County citizens deserve to have immediate emergency medical care when we need it," said Cassia Witherspoon, who lives near Colbert.

She said EMS needs more workers.

"Until people apply, then there's nothing we can do," Reed said.

Right now, they're short-staffed, and Bryan County EMS said for the past several months they've been out of service 10 to 15 days of the month.

On those days, Bryan County EMS said they station an ambulance within city limits to reduce response time.

"It has gotten to the point where we need them, and that's what I'm saying. You can accept their help or close it down," Reed said.

But for the Bryan County Ambulance Authority to provide that help, they want 24 hours notice.

Something they said Colbert EMS hasn't been doing.

So at the Monday night council meeting the city agreed to a new contract, where the city will lose $1,000 in funding from the county for every day they don't give 24 hours notice.

Even if Colbert fails to staff their ambulance services for as little as an hour, they would still lose a thousand dollars.

"No one's going to get on top by losing a thousand dollars a day when they're barely surviving as it is," Witherspoon said.

"This is no joking matter. This is nothing to laugh at," Reed said.

The other option would be for the city to hire more workers with a starting pay of $9 an hour.

Nearby ambulance services pay almost twice as much.

"They're going to have to raise the pay. I mean that's just point blank," Witherspoon said.

Mayor Reed declined an interview.