Local EMS services feel economic stress - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

LONGVIEW

Local EMS services feel economic stress

For rural communities, emergency medical services can be the difference between life or death. But economic hard times could force some East Texas EMS services to be cut back in areas where they are desperately needed. Their quick treatment of patients often buys the precious time needed en-route to hospitals.

"For some people its literally a matter of life and death," said Harleton EMS technician Phil Weis.

"Because the distance from here to Longview, it's a critical time factor," said Harleton resident Mike Brittian.

But dropping call volumes and the cost of funding EMS services may force some to cut back service. For smaller communities that are a long way from the nearest hospital, EMS services are critical, and its not just a ride to hospital,  it's what they bring with them that is important.

"We are a mobile intensive care unit.  We provide many of the services they would get in the emergency room," Weis said.

Payment delinquency from patients is another factor. It can cost between $300 to $500 ambulance transportation, something many people may not know.

"I think most people think that this is somehow through the state or through the county, [but] they have limited funds and can't provide everything," Brittain said.

In rural areas, EMS can be the only emergency option. East Texans can actually join an emergency services membership program through Champions EMS at a yearly rate.

Bob Hallmark, reporting.

bhallmark@kltv.com

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