Commission addresses emergency medical response delays

Published 1:11 pm Friday, October 20, 2023

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Lowndes County Commissioners and elected officials are taking action to correct an ongoing dilemma regarding the lack of timely emergency medical response in the county.

According to Sheriff Chris West, though Lowndes County previously held a contract with Haynes Ambulance Service and is currently renegotiating the contract, medical calls are routinely taking significantly longer than they should for units to arrive on scene.

“I cannot tell you the count of times that myself or my staff are on scene and it takes 45 minutes to an hour before an emergency medical response shows up,” West said. “The agreement we had was that if Haynes was on a run in Montgomery or wherever that they would have a unit on standby in Lowndes County to run calls, and that’s not taking place.” 

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Gordonville Mayor Orbuty Ozier shared an experience she recently witnessed where delayed ambulance response was also met with a lack of compassion for the patient.

“On Sept. 13 my neighbor was dealing with breathing complications so another of our neighbors called 911 and I stayed with her to wait for the ambulance,” Ozier said. “After 20 minutes I called 911 again and asked where the ambulance was and they told me the call had been put out. After another 20-or-so minutes I called again and I was told again that the call had been put out and that they were waiting on an ambulance. I was told there was no ambulance in the county. When they finally got to the house the person from the ambulance service discouraged my neighbor from going to the hospital because the ‘hospitals were full’ and had a [negative] attitude throughout the conversation. He wouldn’t even help her walk to the truck. She ended up being in the hospital for 3 days and we thank God she survived.”

According to Commissioner Charlie King Jr., this has been an ongoing issue for over a year and commissioners plan to meet with County Attorney Prince Chestnut as well as the director of Haynes Ambulance Service soon to find both explanations for the lack of response and a solution to the issue.

““From a commissioner’s standpoint we can’t continue to sit here and let this stuff happen and not do anything about it,” King said. “We are paying them, and if they don’t want the service they need to get out of the county. They don’t need to be mistreating our people and not giving them adequate service, especially when they’re getting paid to be here. We’ve got a serious problem with the ambulance service.”

Commissioners are hopeful the director of Haynes Ambulance Service will attend the next board meeting on Oct. 23 to find a resolution. This article will be updated as further information is released.