Orange Beach getting its own ambulance service to combat lagging response times

(IMG: WPMI / Cory Pippin) Orange Beach getting its own ambulance service to combat lagging response times

The city of Orange Beach will soon have its very own ambulance service.

Like many other municipalities in Baldwin County, Orange Beach is currently serviced by Medstar EMS.

However, officials say growth and traffic congestion has created a need for the quickest option possible.

Justin Pearce, Orange Beach Fire/Rescue Chief, said minutes can often mean the difference between life or death in an emergency.

"We have experienced huge growth, lots of traffic. Lots of issues with ambulances coming onto the island, leaving the island and getting back," said Chief Pearce.

Chief Pearce said medical help is currently provided on scene by his staff of firefighters and paramedics until a Medstar EMS ambulance arrives.

That's about to change.

City officials voted to expand their services by purchasing two ambulances and hiring 9 additional EMTs to handle transportation themselves.

"With us having dedicated ambulances on the island to serve our community, it's going to provide what we feel like is a higher level of service and quicker response times," Chief Pearce said.

Tony Kennon, Mayor of Orange Beach, said the cost will be about $1 million up front and $500,000 annually. However, Mayor Kennon hopes most of those funds will be recouped through insurance.

Mayor Kennon said the move is not indicative of poor service provided by Medstar, which has 24 ambulances spread across Baldwin County.

"Medstar has been a great friend and they understand the dilemma we have with us being so far to the end of the county," said Mayor Kennon, "It's just difficult to navigate the traffic problems. So if you have a stroke or trauma or heart attack or whatever, you'll soon have the best at your door in 3 to 5 minutes."

According to Mayor Kennon, response times in the city are around 20 to 45 minutes in some cases.

Matt Wilson, long-time Orange Beach resident, said a dedicated ambulance service is the right way to go.

"With all the retired folks we have in the community, my mom being one of them, I think it's great to have a quick response time. That could really be the difference between life and death," Wilson said.

Chief Pearce said Medstar EMS will still work with them and be available should they need support in the future.

City officials expect to have the new ambulance service up and running by April or May of 2019.

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