Grassroots movement to keep ambulance service local

by Larry Lemmons
Newschannel 10

Amarillo, Texas - A grassroots effort is forming to keep the city of Amarillo's ambulance service local.

This occurs as the City of Amarillo is considering a deal that would allow Northwest Texas Healthcare System to sell its ambulance service to national company AMR.

As of last Tuesday Northwest's request to the city to expedite the consideration of the sale has been extended indefinitely. But now a movement is forming that wants to keep the ambulance service in house, so to speak.

A new Facebook page, "Keep Amarilloparamedics local" has 718 friends. Fifty joined just today.

Here at NewsChannel 10 we've received several anonymous e-mails claiming to be from AMS employees who say they'd be fired if they spoke to the media.  They're primarily concerned with the proposed sale of the ambulance service to AMR but they're also angry they're not being told anything.

James Williams, head of Amarillo Professional Firefighters, the local union says, "I feel bad for those guys right now because they're stuck. They don't have anywhere to turn. They can't get answers out of anybody. I feel sorry for them. We're working with them right now trying to get those answers and hopefully we'll get them soon."

Despite worries about cost, the Amarillo City Commission says a potential move of emergency services to the fire department is not off the table.

Amarillo City Commissioner Dr. Brian Eades says, "It's been interesting that during our commission meeting last week the fireman's union stated they felt like the decision had already been made and rather tried to pin the mayor down on that very issue and I can tell you that without reservation that there is no final decision been made and you can bet as we review these issues we'll be going to look at what is best for the citizens of Amarillo all around."

Dr. Eades says the new emergency communications center will ensure accountability for whichever service is approved.