Volunteers Work To Save Local EMS - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

8/7/05-Grand Saline

Volunteers Work To Save Local EMS

Time is running out for one community's local ambulance service. And it all boils down to $6 a month.

As we first told you a couple of weeks ago, the Grand Saline EMS has lost close to $50,000 this year. That's because a previously mandatory fee supporting the EMS became voluntary in December. So more than half of the city's residents opted out.

The EMS could shut down by the end of next month, if it keeps losing money.

"Let's go up Houston," Jeanne Lea, volunteer coordinator, said. "Who wants to take the east of Houston?"

Volunteers are hitting every street, every house.

"People are coming by and signing up and taking a street or two, and at their convenience, going door to door," Lea said.

They're trying to save their local EMS.

"They do a lot for us," Lea said. "And it's time for us to give back to them."

"I had a brother that passed away," Pam Harrison, another volunteer, said. "And if we hadn't had the volunteer ambulance and the personal touch that they give, we wouldn't have got the precious hours and minutes and seconds that we got to spend with him before he passed away."

Many residents don't even realize the $6 fee was taken off their monthly water bill. So now, volunteers are trying to get them to sign a form to get the $6 fee put back on their bill.

"I was just wondering, have you've signed up for the Grand Saline ambulance service," Lea asked one resident. "You already have? Ok, thank you so much. Appreciate it."

In an effort like this, you get some hits and some misses.

"We're not home here," Lea said, after knocking and getting no answer.

"Are you signed up for the ambulance service?" Jim, Lea's husband, yelled across the street.

"There are a few that think because they have insurance, that that covers it, that that's [the fee is] just extra," Lea said. "But what it does is guarantee that our ambulance is here."

Local paramedics say, if they're forced to shut down, response time from an outside company could be up to five times longer.

"Have you signed up for the ambulance service, Mr. Greenway?" Lea asked yet another resident.

He hadn't.

"And then I'll need your name, your address, and your phone number," Harrison told Mr. Greenway.

The volunteers' efforts have paid off. To date, more than 700 residents have opted back in to pay the monthly fee. The goal is to get all 1200 to do the same.

Julie Tam, reporting. jtam@kltv.com


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