Lincoln Co. cities scramble for solutions to impending ambulance service shortfall

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LINCOLN CO., Okla. (KFOR) - Lincoln County is in danger of becoming an ambulance desert after Samaritan EMS told Stroud it would no longer provide ambulance services for the city at the end of October.

The contract between Stroud and Samaritan says they are supposed to give a 180-day notice if changes are being made, but Stroud says it wasn’t told about Samaritan’s decision to pull out until this month.

“The area they have to cover, the subsidy, the amount of money we pay them to take care of that, the transfers from the hospital, taking them out of town,” Stroud City Manager Robert Pearman told News 4. “All of the distance they travel for this ambulance district. They feel like they weren’t making enough money to survive.”

Both Stroud and Samaritan say they've had a great relationship for the past seven years, but Samaritan says it was actually losing money by continuing to operate in Stroud.

Pearman says the city is already exploring alternatives to make sure there isn’t a lapse in service.

“We’re not going to go a day without an ambulance service,” Pearman said. “We have a backup plan, but right now we are interviewing different ambulance services to hopefully pick what’s best for the city of Stroud.”

If Stroud did have a lapse in service, that would put more of a burden on the only two ambulances owned and operated by Chandler.

Chandler city officials say they already serve around 70% of Lincoln County, so stretching them any thinner could put the city in a bind.

“The problem is if we get a call on the Turnpike and we get a call to help Stroud, say for instance because their ambulance is out or they don’t have one, and we go over there,” Chandler City Manager James Melson told News 4. “We leave the city of Chandler completely unprotected.”

Both cities are hoping to find a more long term solution to the problem.

The goal is to get the Lincoln County Commission to put something on the ballot for Lincoln County residents to vote on.

The vote would be for a county-wide increase in property or sales tax with all of the revenue going to fund ambulance services.

“We are on the agenda for the County Commissioner’s meeting Monday morning,” Pearman said. “We will be there, hopefully to give some advice, some direction, or maybe just answer some questions for our County Commissioners.”

The only other city in Lincoln County with an ambulance is Prague. It’s operated by REACT, and it also serves Meeker.

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