Crittenden Co. Feeling Strain Of Ambulance Shortage

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WEST MEMPHIS, AR (localmemphis.com)– School football games are stretching ambulance services to the max in Crittenden County, Arkansas.

State law requires an ambulance to be at every game. And when you add that, to the recent closing of Crittenden Regional Hospital, you risk the ability to provide adequate service to those in need.

West Memphis handles 4,000 ambulance calls a year. Now that the county is without a hospital, ambulances are forced to take patients to Memphis or other regional hospitals.

Since the extra miles result in extra time, fire officials are concerned they may not have enough ambulances to go around.

“We have always covered the football games and we’ll continue to cover the football games,” said West Memphis Fire EMS Director Chris Brogdon.

When you’re at a school football game, you’ll notice an ambulance sitting near the end zone. The game cannot start until the ambulance is in place.

Brogdon says they’ve always sent an ambulance to every game, even before it became state law.

“We have run out of ambulances several times. And it’s not just because of the ball games. It’s got to do with the amount of calls we do and just not enough ambulances in the city…the county,” said Brogdon.

Brogdon says Crittenden County is desperate for more ambulances, especially with the closing of the hospital.

“Since the hospital is closed, and we have approximately nine ambulances at any given time in the city, having one designated to the football game, of course, makes us a little short.” said Brogdon.

“Taking everybody to Memphis takes our time limit from a normal 30 minute to an hour range being out of service, to two hours or longer.”

On Thursday nights, there can be two football games going on in the city. In the county, there can be up to five.

The extra time it takes to transport a patient to a Memphis hospital has caused Crittenden County to run out of ambulances. They need help.

“We would like for…number one…to get a hospital. That would be the biggest help. Number two, we just need more ambulances,” said Brogdon.

There are two weeks when junior high football games will be played at the same time, October 9th and 16th.

Director Brogdon says they’ll do everything they can to make sure that all the games are covered and still be available when citizens need them.

Brogdon says Methodist University Hospital in Memphis has really stepped up in helping them handle all the calls.

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