QUINWOOD, WV (WVNS) — It’s the end of an era for an ambulance service in Greenbrier County.
Quinwood Emergency Ambulance used to serve the entire western end of Greenbrier County. However, that changed a few months ago.
Mike Honaker, the Director of Emergency Management and Homeland Security, told 59News there were concerns surrounding how long it was taking Quinwood to get to medical emergencies. Greenbrier County commissioners decided to make zones on the western end. White Sulphur Springs EMS now has a post in Rainelle and responds to calls in the area. Adding another ambulance service to the west end, cut Quinwood’s boundary down to a much smaller section.
“Ultimately at the end of the day what this is about is saving lives. When we know these are life and death situations, these calls, we have to do what’s best for the community as a whole.” Honaker said.
A factor leading to the concern of response times, was how many ambulances Quinwood was operating with.
Serena Davis, the Vice President of Quinwood Emergency Ambulance, responded to that concern. She said COVID-19 played a part of the issue. Davis explained call volumes dropped when the pandemic began, which made budgeting difficult.
She admits two of their ambulances were out of service, and they struggled to find money to fix it, which left them with one working unit.
“We did have one truck, that truck actually never stopped running. We had anywhere from 6-10 calls in a 24 hour period. It never shut down,” Davis said.
Honaker said after going back and reviewing 911 calls, there were times Quinwood Emergency Ambulance would have to transport a patient to Greenbrier Valley Medical Center on the opposite end of the county. He said if no other ambulance service was placed on standby in the western end, a large area would be uncovered. Adding there would be times it would take one hour for paramedics to get to a call, and sometimes it was too late.
“Some of these were very very serious calls. Unfortunately, with some of these calls, people died. We can’t just continue to sit back and say “Well, that’s not something we should get involved in.” So, the commission did the one thing they could, and they brought in more ambulance services,” Honaker said.
Davis said she takes full responsibility for only having one truck able to respond to emergencies, and
they did their best to get the issue resolved as quickly as possible. Davis added she wishes there was clearer communication as to which ambulance service was on standby while Quinwood responded to another call.
Honaker said the issues could be cleared up with more than one ambulance in operation.
Speaking on behalf of Greenbrier County Commission and emergency management, Honaker said these decisions were not made with the intentions to put anyone out of business. However, Davis said once the zones were put in place, call volumes dropped significantly.
Now, Quinwood Emergency Ambulance is closing its doors for good. Davis said they can no longer afford to pay employees and keep the business afloat. She added it’s difficult to accept they will no longer be able to serve their community.
“We’re all from here, we know our patients. They know us, they’re familiar with us, they’re comfortable with us. A lot of times they are not going to get that with a bigger company,” Davis said.
Mayor of Quinwood, Brenda Sizemore, said she’s thankful for the first responders who helped her family out when they needed it most.
“I don’t feel my mother would have lived as long as she did had they not been here to take her when she would have bad attacks, and my dad they were always good to my dad,” Sizemore said.
Employees told us they don’t know what lies ahead, but they are thankful for the opportunity to serve the community for 40 years.
Quinwood Emergency Ambulance shut their doors at 9A.M. Monday, October 5, 2020. They will continue to provide coverage for Greenbrier West, Western Greenbrier Middle School, and Western Youth Football and Cheer home games for the remainder of the season.