Purcell emergency service considers cut backs


Thursday, September 25th 2008, 8:39 pm
By: News 9


By Gan Matthews, NEWS 9

PURCELL, Okla. -- There are a dozen towns in Oklahoma that have no ambulance service, and Purcell could be the next to lose their emergency service.

Wadley's EMS service said it needs more revenue to continue providing quality service.

Wadley's has been supplying ambulance service for Purcell and the surrounding area for 34 years, but the owners said recently they've faced hard times. According to the owners, unless they're allowed to up their rates the Purcell area may lose the service.

Last year Jackie Wadley and his crew made over 1100 runs in Purcell, but cuts in Medicare payments have cut deeply into Wadley's budget.

"When Medicare cuts back the other insurances that are your secondary insurances also cut back," Wadley said. "It's been a ripple effect over the last four or five years."

Wadley asked the Purcell Board of Trustees to raise the monthly rate each household pays for ambulance service from $4 to $7.

Wadley said his service covers an area of 700 square miles because they're the closest ambulance service available in the case of an emergency.

Without the increase, Wadley said he'll have to reduce his service level to basic EMT service, meaning a lower level of care for citizens.

Many Purcell residents said they don't object to the higher fee.

"I don't think it's that much because you look at things in today's economy. For what little you can buy for $3, you're getting a lot for $3," Purcell resident Steven Bebout said.

Barbara Idleman, another Purcell resident, said the rates are cheaper than those in other communities.

Wadley said the same cost pressures have recently caused 50 other ambulance companies to fail.

"That's the reason that we've gone back to the city and asked them for this increase," Wadley said. "We don't want to be number 51.

The Purcell Board of Trustees will discuss the higher ambulance fee at its next meeting on October 6.