LIFE Ambulance comes to a stop

PARKERSBURG – A private ambulance provider in Wood County has ceased operations, officials said.

LIFE ambulance service operating transport services in the Parkersburg-Marietta area closed shop on Friday.

Wood County Coroner Mike St. Clair told the Wood County Commission he was informed employees reporting for work at the private ambulance service over the weekend were “locked out.”

“Apparently when they went to work on Saturday morning they had closed up shop,” St. Clair said, noting there had been reports circulating the corporation was in financial distress and had closed other locations.

Calls from the Parkersburg News and Sentinel to LIFE Ambulance offices in Parkersburg and Marietta, Ohio, went unanswered.

The closure will not affect emergency services here because LIFE Ambulance only operated transport services, transporting patients to nursing homes, doctor’s appointments and other related services. County officials noted it will affect Camden and St. Joseph’s ambulance services that will probably be called upon to pick up the transport services dropped by LIFE.

Local emergency officials said they were completely unaware of the move.

“It was a complete surprise to me. I hadn’t heard anything. They were having their ambulances inspected last week, then apparently Friday they shut the doors down. I just heard about it on Monday,” said Wood County Emergency Management Director Ed Hupp.

Randy Lowe, Wood County 911 director, said he also hadn’t heard anything about the impending closure of the business.

“They don’t really affect us. We don’t use them at all. They did approach the county commission a few years ago about being backup, but they were never placed on our list. After the recent incident in Vienna refocused on EMS services in Wood County, it was brought up again to the 911 Advisory Board, but there was a lack of confidence in them being able to perform the duties, and so no recommendation was made to the county commission to add them to the services,” Lowe said. “I’ve not had any communication with LIFE Ambulance since they approached the commission a couple of years ago.”

LIFE provided transport services in this area. The company did not provide emergency services here. Although, back in 2010 representatives of the firm asked the county commission to consider the company to provide 911 backup services for the Camden and St. Joseph’s ambulances when there was a need. The commissioners did not add the company to the list.

An Internet website for EMS providers stated First Med, which owned LIFE Ambulance and MedCorp ended services Friday night. According to the website together the companies were the largest providers of emergency medical services in the state of Ohio.

News reports stated the parent company on Friday notified more than 2,000 employees in several states it had ceased operations.

When LIFE Ambulance officials approached the commission back in 2010, representatives for the firm said they had been in business locally had been here for more than two years. At that time, the company maintained offices off Seventh Street.

At the time the county was told the firm owned unpaid personal property taxes.

The Nelsonville, Ohio, office was also apparently shut down and had a sign posted at its location stating the parent company, FirstMed EMS filed for bankruptcy Friday and that the proceedings included LIFE Ambulance Service. First Med EMS, based in Wilmington, N.C., served hospitals and other medical facilities in more than 70 municipalities in Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.