PEA RIDGE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – A Pea Ridge EMT says the EMS is understaffed- pointing to the death of Officer Kevin Apple as the most recent sign of the need for workers.
The Arkansas State Board of Health requires all ambulances to have two licensed workers on every call at the Advanced Life Support level. However, Jason Bowman of Pea Ridge said he was alone the day he responded to the call for Officer Apple.
I promised as a first responder to help, and being staffed and left alone like that hurts.”JASON BOWMAN, PEA RIDGE EMT
Bowman said this has long been an issue in Pea Ridge. He said EMS receives anywhere from three to ten calls a day and too often, the ambulances that arrive are understaffed.
“If it wasn’t Officer Apple, what if it was somebody else and there was a chance that they could have been saved?” Bowman asked. “They would have been waiting for someone else to come pick them up and take them.”
Pea Ridge Mayor Jackie Crabtree said he knows some in the community are frustrated. In the past, he said Pea Ridge EMS averaged around 30 volunteers. Currently, there are 17.
“It’s just hard to get people to volunteer to our department,” he said. “It’s not really a funds issue, it’s just getting things organized where we can do that.”
Crabtree said the city has the cash to hire three full-time paramedics. He also said the city is applying for grants to bring on more paid volunteers.
Until that happens, Bowman said he has reported the issue of being understaffed and responding to calls alone to the Arkansas Board of Health.
When Pea Ridge took an ALS service, they promised to have it staffed 24/7 and all the other citizens that have called for an ambulance during a time it’s not staffed have been denied that same right.”JASON BOWMAN, PEA RIDGE EMT
A spokesperson for the department of health said a city could lose its ambulance service license if it receives three formal citations, but as of now, Pea Ridge has not received one.