The papers haven’t been officially signed yet, but Arab Mayor Bob Joslin says local citizens will have continued ambulance service in the area. He told the city council Monday night, “it should be a seamless transition.”
Marshall Health Systems director of ambulances Bill Smith echoed Joslin’s sentiments.
Samaritan ambulance informed the city in late May that the company was terminating it’s contract with the city at the end of June. On July 1, Marshall Health Systems will begin providing ambulance service in Arab.
Based in the Morgan City area, Samaritan had the contract for the rural area of Morgan County before Lifeguard Ambulance Service won a new contract for the county in 2015, making it difficult for the company to continue.
“(Arab Fire and Rescue) Chief Ricky Phillips and (I) met with Marshall Medical Centers CEO Gary Gore and they’re ready to pick it up,” said Joslin.
Prior to the meeting, Phillips said he had concerns with the equipment the service could supply during emergency runs, such as heart monitors.
“It’s still in limbo on the exact number of heart monitors and other equipment they will provide, but after the meeting I think we will have a pretty good plan in place,” said Phillips.
Joslin said the meeting was thorough.
“We spent about half a day working with their people on all the details they would be responsible for and what we would be responsible for. We came to a real good agreement on everything,” he said.
Marshall Health Systems has actually already hired some of the people that worked at Samaritan that should make the change even smoother.
“We hated to see Samaritan go, they were excellent to work with,” said Joslin.
But, he feels confident the new service will work just as well. ”You’ll see a different color uniform and a different color ambulance but with some of the same employees moving over to Marshall Medical, I don’t think people will know the difference,” he said.
Smith told the Tribune that, while Marshall’s ambulances generally don’t cover areas outside Marshall County, they will with Arab’s coverage.
“Anywhere Samaritan covered, we will, too,” he said.
That includes the Strawberry, Hopewell, Joppa and other communities that Samaritan covered for Arab but are in Cullman County.
Smith said all issues were worked out in the meeting with Joslin and Phillips and, he said, he too expects a smooth transition.
Marshall will house an ambulance at Arab Fire Station on Fourth Avenue.
“We have a program where trucks rotate in and out depending on calls,” Smith said. “If the Arab truck is on a call taking a patient to Huntsville, for example, Arab won’t be uncovered. We will have a back up.”
Smith said the only difference Arab residents will notice is the color of the ambulances.
“Our goal is to provide the closest possible ambulance to Arab residents,” he said.