Since a November 2018 Police Jury meeting where several firefighters and EMTs from various communities in Vernon Parish voiced their concerns about slow response times from Acadian Ambulance Service, Med Express Ambulance Service has been available to handle calls when needed.

Unfortunately, receiving the call is the difficult part at the moment.

Terry Harris, Paramedic Field Supervisor & Training Officer for MedExpress Ambulance Service for Vernon and Sabine Parishes recently said that because Med Express is not on a 911 rotation list, they are not being dispatched by 911 unless the first responder specifically asks for them.

To learn more about what is going on, we talked to Kenneth Moore, the Director of the Vernon Parish Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness.

We asked Moore why calls were not being routed to Med Express.  

“At this point, they are not authorized to operate within the parish,” Moore said.

Essentially, Med Express needs to be authorized by the Vernon Parish Police Jury.

If that happens then policy will be established to give the ambulance services a fair and equal distribution of the calls.

We also asked Moore what was the process for an ambulance service to be put on a 911 rotation list.

“We don’t have a 911 rotation at this point in time,” Moore said.

The current policy is that “if requested, because we do not dispatch, we transfer. If requested (by first responders) we will transfer to Acadian or Med Express,” Moore related.

Moore and the Police Jury are aware that Med Express is operating in the Parish and he said that in order to service the residents and make sure that people are getting the help they need in an expeditious manner, he developed the “upon request” policy.

“I’m not going to second guess what a first responder on the scene is looking at,” Moore said.

According to Tyler Martin, Director of Operations, since November 1, 2018, Med Express has responded to 19 emergency calls, 9 were transfers from 911 and 10 were from individuals who called them directly asking for help.

They have also responded to 65 non-emergency calls within the parish.

During the same timeframe, “We have had 41 different ambulances assist in emergency and non-emergency transports in Vernon” said Michael Burney, Acadian Regional Vice President via email.

Med Express now has two units stationed in Leesville and Anacoco who can respond to calls within those town limits.

Until the police jury makes a final decision whether to grant them a permit to operate in Vernon Parish or not they are bound to operate within those boundaries. Unless a first responder specifically requests to be transferred to them.

Until that time, only the Emergency Medical Service Advisory Board know for a fact if their presence is actually needed and would be a benefit to the residents.