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Harrison County leaders concerned with ambulance response times

AMR takes special precautions when responding to COVID calls.
AMR takes special precautions when responding to COVID calls.(Photo Source: WLOX)
Published: Aug. 2, 2021 at 9:01 PM CDT
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HARRISON COUNTY, Miss. (WLOX) - Two people in Harrison County recently suffered cardiac issues. 911 was called. However, Harrison County supervisors just found out an American Medical Response ambulance never showed up.

Those supervisors say they want to talk with AMR representatives next week about what they worry are slower and slower response times that put your lives at risk.

“I got one call from a guest at Beau Rivage,” supervisor Beverly Martin said at Monday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, “who said it took 30 minutes to show up.”

AMR representatives were not at the Monday meeting because the issue was not on the supervisors’ agenda. It came up during a section of the meeting when supervisors freely discuss issues in their districts. Board President Martin looked at her colleagues and said, “We need to discuss AMRs response times.”

The worry for every elected leader in the supervisors’ room focused on the people they represent and the immediate medical assistance they demand.

“Biloxi had two incidents recently where they had a cardiac patient and they (AMR) didn’t show up,” said Harrison County Sheriff Troy Peterson. “They had to go get Jackson County to come over and get them.” That experience, the sheriff told supervisors, is becoming a bit more frequent. He bluntly told board members, “The response times are bad in Harrison County.”

AMR has a contract with Harrison County to provide its daily ambulance service. In 2015, WLOX News looked into AMR response times. At that time, AMR’s contract with Harrison County stipulated ambulances had to respond to calls inside city limit within seven minutes 59 seconds of a call. The response time was just under 17 minutes for rural emergencies.

In 2016, Gulfport threatened to negotiate its only ambulance agreement, citing its dissatisfaction with AMR response times. The city ultimately kept AMR as its ambulance provider.

Five years later, supervisors and the top law enforcement officer in Harrison County believe AMR response times are lagging.

“I think it’s because of the same issues that everybody is having with employees,” Sheriff Peterson said. He noted Harrison County has a long-standing relationship with AMR, saying, “AMR has been very good to us for a long time.” But, the sheriff conceded, “If it’s employee issues it’s one thing. But, if it’s just merely not fulfilling the contract, then that’s another thing.”

Supervisor Martin said she’ll invite AMR representatives to the Aug. 9 board meeting so the two groups can discuss the contract and why law enforcers and the public both say ambulances are taking longer to arrive at medical emergencies throughout Harrison County.

You can watch the full supervisor’s meeting below.

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