HIGHFILL, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – As of Jan. 1 Cave springs, Highfill and Centerton now have their own ambulance coverage thanks to a partnership with Northwest Health EMS.

Benton County Judge Barry Moehring says it’s the second phase of a plan that started years ago.

“There are six ambulances on the west side of Benton County that two and a half years ago weren’t there at all,” Moehring said.

One family thankful to hear about the partnership, the Pirkeys, who live in Highfill.

“Cameron and I have a very rare genetic heart disease that was diagnosed at Children’s about a year and a half ago,” Melody Pirkey said.

Judge Moehring says they saved about half a million dollars each year since they started contracting EMS services years ago. He says while the cities were doing a great job responding to emergencies, the cost was going up partly due to departments having to deal with their own growing pains.

Another benefit was getting people the help they need in half the amount of time it would normally take.

“The ambulance was coming from the city of Bentonville, whereas now the ambulance is based here in Highfill we’ve dropped the average response time roughly by 15 minutes,” Chief Gene Holland with the Highfill Fire Department said.

Melody Pirkey says her and her son’s heart condition affects the rhythm of their hearts, causing issues like cardiac arrest and Melody having to get a heart pump.

“They’re here to help and they’re here to help faster and that can be a matter of life and death for some and so we just want them to know how grateful we are as citizens of Highfill,” Melody said.

Judge Moehring says with these services now in place about 80% of rural Benton county now has EMS coverage.