ETMC EMS to no longer service Alto and Wells

CHEROKEE COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Two southern Cherokee County cities are just a few weeks away from losing access to the East Texas Medical Center ambulance service.

With time flying by, both cities are working to find alternate plans to ensure there will be no lapse in their emergency medical services.

A partnership with the East Texas Medical Center EMS for both the City of Wells and City of Alto is coming to a close.

General Manager of ETMC EMS, Neal Franklin says on July 15th ETMC will discontinue their ambulance service to the southern part of Cherokee County.

Franklin says they simply can't afford to cover Wells and Alto anymore.
But Wells Mayor, C. W. Williams says he feels like there might be other reasons as well.

"97 percent of the people from Alto and Wells go to the hospital in Lufkin and therefore it takes probably takes funds away from ETMC and we feel that it's probably one of the reasons," said Williams.

Franklin told KTRE on the phone that the call volume for southern Cherokee County is fairly low.

He said ETMC covers 17 counties and that a smaller ambulance provider that doesn't have as much overhead cost could provide services less expensively.

Williams says Wells is working on plans to correct the situation before the ETMC service ends and ensure a new EMS plan is in place.  

"We will survive," said Williams. "We have a good first responder unit here that's run by a paramedic."

So if someone dials 911, Williams wants wells residents to know someone will be there.

"Whenever the 911 call goes in, well then our first responders are notified and we go out usually sometimes 20 to 30 minutes before an ambulance can get here anyway," said Williams.

City officials in Alto could not be reached for comment today other than to say there will be a special meeting on Monday, June 24th dedicated to discussing the ambulance service.

Both the City of Wells and the regional director of ETMC have been invited to attend the meeting to see if they can work out alternate partnerships or agreements.

Franklin says ETMC has every intention of working with both cities to make a new agreement or organize a partnership with another EMS service to cover Wells and Alto.

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