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Ambulance Delay Creates Questions For Supervisors

After a two-car crash on October 22, Daliah McLeod had to wait almost an hour for an ambulance to transport her to the hospital. Her husband, Butler McLeod, questioned supervisors about the delay. – Photo by Jack Gurner

By David Howell

COFFEEVILLE – An hour-long wait for an ambulance following an automobile accident created questions for Yalobusha supervisors during the “first Monday” supervisors’ meeting held in Coffeeville.

    “How many ambulances do we have in operation in Yalobusha County?” asked Butler McLeod, who  told county officials that his wife had suffered a broken leg and busted knee during the two-car accident that occurred at the intersection of CR 436 and 90.

    While not directly connected to the hospital, county fire coordinator Frank Hyde was at the meeting and help field questions from McLeod.

    “Right now we don’t have a standby, it is out of service,” Hyde reported, adding the hospital keeps two ambulances in service at all times. The third standby ambulance is used in case of a break-down, but is not staffed, according to Hyde.

    “We provide funding for ambulances, just like we do for other parts of the hospital,” District Three Supervisor Butch Surrette also explained.

    McLeod outlined the details of the October crash, which occurred at 4:36 p.m., reporting it took an hour for an ambulance to arrive from Batesville, plus another 20 minutes transport time to Baptist Memorial Hospital in Oxford.

    Supervisors explained that they provide funding for the hospital to offset the expenses, but were not involved in the actual day-to-day operations of the facility.

    “For good reason, we are not experts in that field,” Surrette continued.

    “I am here to find out what this supervisor board can do?” a congenial McLeod asked. “I talked with the hospital administrator and did not get a satisfactory answer, adding that he was told there was not money to staff the third ambulance.

    “We are in a lot better shape than other counties,” District One Supervisor Tommy Vaughn weighed in, pointing to two ambulances on duty at all times staffed with paramedics. Vaughn described McLeod’s situation as “not acceptable,” but added there are limitations for a county this size.

    Both Yalobusha ambulances were on other calls at the time of the accident, McLeod also told supervisors.

    “Why other counties were not called earlier, I don’t know,” Vaughn said.    

    “We share the same concerns… making sure the next available we get the next available ambulance,” Board President Amos Sims told McLeod about the apparent delay in calling another county to respond to the accident scene.

    “We will find out, the Oxford ambulances could have been tied up,” Vaughn said.

    “When I got there, there were three sitting under the shed,” McLeod told supervisors, explaining that he followed the ambulance transporting his wife to Oxford.

    “Have you met with the hospital board?” Vaughn asked.

    “They told me the hospital board doesn’t have anything to do with that,” McLeod answered.

    “Oh yes, they do,” Board Attorney John Crow answered.

    Vaughn then told McLeod he would contact the District One Hospital Trustee, Mike Edwards, and get McLeod on the agenda for the next hospital board meeting.


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