Covington -- Newton Medical Center has announced that an ambulance stationed at Fire Station No. 14, located at 6169 Ga. Highway 212 near Oak Hill Road, will no longer be there overnight between the hours of 9 p.m. to 9 a.m.
"As has always been our goal, in order to provide optimal coverage, ambulances are utilized wherever there is a need," said Linda Moseley Komich, director of marketing and business development for NMC, adding that an analysis of 911 calls received for ambulance service for that area was found to be a very small number. "Therefore, although this ambulance will still be available for this area, along with the other four which we have in service, they will be utilized more as a roving ambulance covering calls wherever they are needed."
Komich went on to say that as the overall call volume for the county was analyzed, it did not make sense to tie one ambulance down to that particular area not getting calls when there may be a need somewhere else in the county.
There are currently five ambulances in service in the county from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and beginning at 9 p.m., four ambulances are staffed, she said.
"There are no additional plans to change (other) ambulance locations or hours at this time," she added.
Komich said said two factors were considered when ambulances are distributed in the county.
"We look at both geography in terms of coverage area and density of calls from actual data capture," she said. "We feel that it is most advantageous to station ambulances where the majority of calls originate. While we do have ambulances at the hospital, we also have them stationed throughout the county at fire stations."
She said hospital management believes they have adequate ambulances and staff to care for the population of the county and pointed out that they have mutual aid agreements with other EMS services outside Newton County to both receive needed assistance and to offer those jurisdictions assistance.
"In 2012, we responded to more calls outside our area than they did within Newton County," she said. "We would love to be able to respond to all of the calls, but no matter how many ambulances you have, there will always be a time when you have more calls than you can handle. It is the nature of the business that if you have five trucks, then six calls will come in at the same time."
NMC EMS responded to 11,176 calls in 2012, with only 36 percent of those calls occurring between the hours of 9 p.m. and 9 a.m., while the remaining 64 percent of the calls took place between 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., according to Komich.
"The ratio of staffed units to calls is strong during the affected period of time," she pointed out.
The hospital's EMS operation receives .451 mils from the county toward funding the service and for the last fiscal year from July 1, 2011, through June 30, 2012, that amounted to just under a million dollars at $982,182. Komich said for the year July 1, 2012, through June 30, 2013, projections are that they will receive $880,368. She said that due to the shrinking county tax digest, the hospital has received less support each year since 2008 for ambulance operations.