Citizens in one Tulsa County community are wondering when they call 911, when will help arrive? State inspectors say emergency workers have been struggling for months to provide ambulance service in Collinsville with faulty equipment. Now both of the town's units are broken down.
Patients are being covered with the help of surrounding communities, but as News on 6 reporter Heather Lewin explains, if the department isn't brought up to state standards, Collinsville EMS could end up out of service.
State officials first became alarmed back in January when they learned nearly 20-percent of calls for an ambulance in Collinsville were passed on to another town. Rick Bronson, regional EMS administrator: "Collinsville was not able to respond to those because they were only operating one ambulance, the other one was broken down."
While they tried to make repairs, the town sought help from surrounding communities. Then, Saturday the second unit went down leaving them without local coverage, the nearest responder 15 minutes away.
State officials say over the weekend surrounding agencies had to pick up more than a dozen calls. "So there were that many calls that Collinsville missed, that they were not able to take care of their citizens in their town." City leaders say the people did not go without coverage. Collinsville EMS quickly borrowed a unit from Claremore and took steps to fix the problem.
Collinsville city manager Pam Polk: â€œthe city council voted Monday night to purchase a new ambulance which we've already put out to bid and they've told us should be were within 10 to 14 days." The question many are asking isn't whether the city's trying to remedy the situation, but why it took so long to take action.
State inspectors say city leaders have known they were in non-compliance for months. Workers were down to one ambulance in January 2006. When a state inspection found Collinsville EMS "fails to maintain sufficient number of staffed ambulances to meet demands of response area." Rick Bronson: "The plan of corrections indicated they were working toward purchasing a new ambulance, that was in March here we are in August, still no new ambulance."
Now with both out of commission and the only unit a back-up loaner, state officials say Collinsville is dangerously close to having its license suspended. Pam Polk: â€œI don't think we necessarily waited, it's not that anybody tries to wait until they just fall apart. It was just timing with everything."
Rick Bronson: "They've got some good EMTs over there; they've got some good paramedics over there. They pour their heart and soul into taking care of the people of Collinsville. They've not been able to do that with the equipment they've been provided with."
When a city is listed in non-compliance, meaning their response time to emergency calls is below state standards, officials are required to come up with a plan of corrections.
Collinsville leaders say they already have one new ambulance on the way and are trying to repair another.
State inspectors say they have 120 days before legal action is taken.