EMS Report Finds North Escambia Problem, Commission Discusses Solutions

May 10, 2019

An ombudsman report on Escambia County Public Safety found an issue with ambulance service in part of the North Escambia area, and that led commissioners to discuss future funding during a Thursday meeting.

As part of her findings, Janice Kilgore told commissioners that there is often a coverage problem because ambulances are pulled away to calls further south in the county.

Kilgore said that if, for instance, the ambulance stationed in Century transports a patient to a Pensacola hospital, they may get diverted to calls in the south end of the county before they make it back to Century.

“They get stuck here, now they are the closest unit to that call maybe out on Nine Mile Road. So it takes a while for them to get back in the area, so that has a coverage problem in the north end ,” she told the commission.

District 5 Commissioner Barry said he has discussed the issue with several North Escambia volunteer fire chiefs and understands the issue will need discussion and attention in the upcoming budget.

“We get one (ambulance) down here, and it gets stuck down here. And then if there’s a call made, there’s not another one within a number of miles,” Barry said. “The utilization of the assets does need some attention up there.”

“I totally respect what you are saying there that the citizens in your district and the north part of Jeff’s (Bergosh), they are not getting the services that they are paying for,” Commissioner Doug Underhill said. “And I will be cognizant of that as we run through the budget cycle.”

Barry said that the volunteer fire service is his District 5 are “relatively healthy”.

“The citizens are being covered. It’s that we haven’t had a tremendous amount of the new employee staff or the new career firefighters have not been deployed in those stations,” Barry said. “But we still do have healthy volunteers, and it’s a fantastic asset to the entire county in my opinion having those volunteers in a number of the stations.”

Commissioner said a plan is in the works to build a new Beulah fire station in District 1.

“I just want the citizens out there to know that you do have dedicated fire coverage out there,” Bergosh said. “It’s all volunteer, Station 2. And God bless those men that volunteer their time.” In addition, he said the area receives assistance from neighboring fire stations.

“There’s coverage out there. Is there things we need to do to fix it and make it better? Absolutely,” Begosh added. “For my vote it’s not going to be a knee jerk, let’s raise tax rates on existing property owners until we extinguish every other possibility, including being creative and combining EMS with Fire together and looking at all revenue sources including capital purchases and making those with the intelligent funding source which is Local Options Sales Tax, not EMS reserves….I’m not going to raise people’s tax rates.”

Thursday’s discussion was part of a larger EMS report presented to the commission. Click here for a previous story.

Pictured: An Escambia County EMS ambulance at the Walnut Hill Fire Station. NorthEscambia.com photo, click to enlarge.


7 Responses to “EMS Report Finds North Escambia Problem, Commission Discusses Solutions”

  1. Centuryresident on May 14th, 2019 8:24 am

    If it was only the Century or Walnut hill unit getting stuck down there that would be understandable. But when you move BOTH of those units to Ensley like they did Saturday morning and keeping both of them down there all day that is not acceptable. You’re counting on Ambulance coverage from others Towns to cover calls in Century if they are on any in there own area. And the wait times on that unit getting there on a heart attack or stroke may have bad outcomes for the person needing them.

  2. Wayne on May 11th, 2019 10:09 am

    Waiting for someone to come up with another gas tax like the tax ECAT got because that business also was not self suffecent or self supporting in revenue
    Le t s fig u re out which item I s going to be taxed in this county because no one is over anything concerning TRAINED supposedly people getting paid for not being qualified except in falsified documents.

  3. Jeff Beregosh on May 11th, 2019 9:48 am

    Wanda–absolutely. God bless all men and women that volunteer–did not mean that as a slight in any way. I am appreciative of everybody that volunteers in the county to serve their fellow citizens.

  4. Jones on May 10th, 2019 7:32 pm

    I have spent the last two months researching the fire service and EMS service. Mr demeter, I do not know what your credentials are, but staffing an apparatus with two is not responsible. You can not perform an effective rescue ornput out the fire with two firemen. If the ambulance is on a call there will not be additional personnel arriving. I lived in northern Arizona for a few years and the city I lived in got sued for that exact issue. They violated the two in two out rule too many times due to lack of staffing. Wanda, volunteers are important, but if you have a heart attack or your house is on fire it is definitely the seconds and minutes that count. Volunteers may eventually show up, but it takes additional time which you or your family may not have to get out of the house or get somebody back from the brink of death. This is not the 70’s and 80’s anymore when people could leave their jobs and run calls. One of the articles stated that this is a national trend, we are not immune to that. Also how can 1/8 of the property taxes pay for service of 2/3 of the county? There’s a lot less revenue coming in from northescambia then there is from the south end. We’re lucky they dont charge us more to keep ambulances, fire trucks, deputies, and the road department in our neck of the woods. If we want the same level of quick guaranteed response we’ll have to suck it up and pull out our wallets. Ms Kilgore said it best: “you get what you pay for!”

  5. Steve Demeter on May 10th, 2019 6:33 pm

    Cross train EMT’s and paramedics as firefighters. Reduce staffing to 2 on each fire apparatus. Staff more ambulances with cross trained firefighters and EMT’s from existing engines that are staffed with 4.. Run as two piece company. Fire comes in one ambulance is paired with an engine for staff of 4 cross trained firefighter/ medics or firefighter /EMT’s.. Saves costs of staffing more apparatus puts more personnel responding to calls. Probably not popular with union. But would help increase service with no increasing taxes.

  6. SLIM JIM on May 10th, 2019 1:53 pm


  7. Wanda Mager on May 10th, 2019 12:43 pm

    #1. Women also are volunteer firefighters. God bless those women too please!
    #2. Beulah area is south of Interstate. District 1. That doesn’t help North End Escambia County which is over 2/3 of the whole county. If it were not for our volunteers we would never make it out alive. I am very Thankful the volunteer fire department always shows up quickly and prepares the ambulance for transport.
    Our County EMS needs to do better for us. We should not solely rely on “healthy” volunteer service. Nor should our budget be given less financial assistance for District 5 just because we try to take care of ourselves.

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