WAAY 31 I-TEAM: Family upset Shoals Ambulance took more than an hour to respond to call

Shoals Ambulance said it had priority one calls and couldn't get to the woman in a timely manner.

Posted: Aug 27, 2019 5:46 PM
Updated: Aug 28, 2019 9:33 AM

A family is upset after it took Shoals Ambulance more than an hour to respond to an emergency call.

The city of Florence and Lauderdale County have a contract with Shoals Ambulance. Shoals Ambulance said it normally has five staffed ambulances throughout the county, but one family, who wished to remain anonymous, said it took the ambulance service an hour and a half to get to their loved one.

"We didn't know at the time how bad her injuries were," said a family member of the 65-year-old woman.

The woman wants to be anonymous because she doesn't want to embarrass her family member by sharing their story. She says her 65-year-old mother in law fell at her home in Greenhill a few weeks ago and they called 911.

"She [dispatcher] kept saying it would take a while," said the woman.

A while turned into an hour and a half. Shoals Ambulance told WAAY 31 it was a perfect storm of calls and this family did, in fact, wait an hour and a half for service. The service says it was swamped with priority one emergency calls and this particular call was priority two.

"I get they were busy and covered up and stuff, but as my mother-in-law laid there for an hour and a half on hot pavement and very uncomfortable, hurt and in a lot of pain, we could do nothing but put ice on her and pray they would hurry up," said the woman.

The woman and her family couldn't move her mother-in-law and she ended up having a broken ankle. Eventually, the ambulance showed up and took her to the hospital.

"She has blood pressure issues. By the time they got her to the emergency room, her blood pressure was sky high. She was trembling still in a lot of pain and I just think it's ridiculous someone would have to wait that long," said the woman.

No volunteer fire departments were dispatched to this incident either because it was in the system as a second priority call, and Greenhill Volunteer Fire Department only go to life threatening calls or fires.

"It's not just a Greenhill issue. It's a county issue and when I say county, I mean the city of Florence," said Greenhill Volunteer Fire Chief Barry Gray.

Gray said anytime they go on a call, they have to wait for a Shoals Ambulance to show up. It's become such an issue, they began documenting the incidences where response time lagged or when the ambulance service had to call in additional services from neighboring county ambulance services.

"We have issues from not having an ambulance, them having to dispatch an ambulance from another county, to ambulances showing up and equipment failing," said Gray. 

We took these questions to Shoals Ambulance and asked if it was in compliance with its contract with the county and city. It said on average, five times a month, it is having to request other ambulance services to come in and help.

The county EMA director told WAAY 31 that is not a contract violation and said they have someone go over any calls by Shoals Ambulance. The EMA director said they are in compliance with their contract.

"If an ambulance is 10 or 15 minutes away, that's too long, much less an hour and a half," said Gray.

As we were interviewing Gray, they were called to a car wreck where a truck left the road and hit a tree. Three passengers were in the truck.

We went with volunteer firefighters to the scene on County Road 47. We got there before the second ambulance did and watched as the three people were loaded up into two Shoals Ambulances.

Gray said that call went well and the ambulance service did a great job that time.

"If every response time was like that, we're good. That's the way it should be," said Gray.

Gray said the problem is that not every call goes like that.

"No chief in this county wants Shoals Ambulance gone. We just want you to do what you say you're going to do and be honest about it. If you can't do it, own up to it and get someone in this county that can do it," said Gray.

Shoals Ambulance was the only ambulance service that applied for the contract. The company said because of the wait time the Greenhill family experienced, it is now looking into ways to improve response times.

The company is consulting with a deployment planning expert to go over the system in Lauderdale County and will deliver a report to Lauderdale County EMA, commissioners and local law enforcement.

Huntsville/Redstone
Clear
69° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 69°
Muscle Shoals
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 70°
Huntsville/Madison
Clear
67° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 67°
Decatur
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 66°
Fort Payne
Partly Cloudy
63° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 63°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 518899

Reported Deaths: 10712
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson753641487
Mobile37763798
Madison33859494
Tuscaloosa25266443
Montgomery23962565
Shelby23106238
Baldwin20631300
Lee15524165
Calhoun14284311
Morgan14139268
Etowah13662345
Marshall11957219
Houston10380278
Elmore9993200
Limestone9811147
Cullman9470188
St. Clair9426234
Lauderdale9215227
DeKalb8746181
Talladega8058171
Walker7087275
Jackson6754110
Autauga6723103
Blount6483135
Colbert6203130
Coffee5399112
Dale4767110
Russell428838
Franklin419982
Chilton4083109
Covington4053114
Tallapoosa3893146
Escambia387674
Dallas3527149
Chambers3499122
Clarke346360
Marion3065100
Pike305875
Lawrence295395
Winston272372
Bibb256258
Marengo248661
Geneva245875
Pickens232959
Barbour224755
Hale218775
Butler212266
Fayette208960
Henry187844
Cherokee182044
Randolph176941
Monroe171440
Washington164038
Macon154548
Clay149354
Crenshaw149257
Cleburne146041
Lamar139234
Lowndes136453
Wilcox124327
Bullock121340
Conecuh109028
Perry107926
Sumter102932
Coosa99228
Greene90734
Choctaw58724
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 822085

Reported Deaths: 12001
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby914971575
Davidson86563918
Knox48960619
Hamilton42811480
Rutherford41428415
Williamson26942213
Sumner22909338
Montgomery18780223
Out of TN17852101
Wilson17747223
Unassigned16441132
Sullivan15781283
Blount14839194
Bradley14284147
Washington13850240
Sevier12986174
Maury12901166
Putnam11072173
Madison10628240
Robertson9486127
Anderson8539171
Hamblen8409169
Greene7645151
Tipton7171104
Coffee6782121
Dickson6643108
Cumberland6461127
Gibson6355144
Bedford6350126
Carter6332156
McMinn625595
Roane6124101
Jefferson6008121
Loudon595869
Lawrence573186
Hawkins5682105
Monroe564395
Warren549481
Dyer5340104
Franklin504987
Fayette484578
Obion447196
Cocke439598
Cheatham436551
Rhea428075
Lincoln427963
Marshall407358
Campbell405462
Weakley398761
Giles391298
Henderson368375
Carroll355582
Macon354375
White351468
Hardin346166
Hardeman345063
Lauderdale312744
Henry309775
Marion307246
Scott303145
Claiborne302373
Overton294360
Wayne294134
Hickman278345
McNairy275354
DeKalb273953
Smith271737
Haywood267660
Grainger255449
Trousdale247822
Morgan242839
Fentress236346
Johnson226738
Chester208651
Bledsoe208211
Crockett199848
Polk196024
Unicoi191149
Cannon187531
Union184034
Grundy176431
Lake169526
Humphreys168721
Sequatchie165228
Benton160940
Decatur156438
Lewis154826
Meigs132123
Stewart129328
Jackson129235
Clay108331
Houston107333
Perry105628
Moore99217
Van Buren82621
Pickett75524
Hancock53612

Community Events