AmStar begins EMS service

Published 2:08 am Saturday, May 23, 2009

One simple sentence broadcast over the dispatch radio told the whole story on Wednesday at 8 a.m.

“Attention all units: After 32 years of faithful service to Marengo County, Tombigbee EMS is forevermore 10-7. AmStar EMS 10-8.”

“10-7” is radio code for out of service, while “10-8” means being in service.

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AmStar Emergency Management Services began its service to Marengo County Wednesday morning, responding to six calls in its first day of operation.

The service will be located at Peachtree Plaza on U.S. Highway 43 South., directed by Mitchell Snipes, Kevin Horne and Lisa Cole. The service was originally set to begin on May 4, but the owners decided to let the hospital complete its pay period and begin on a new pay period day.

The independent ambulance service boasts nine full-time employees and six part-time employees, most coming from the former service, Tombigbee EMS. There is one ambulance on call 24 hours a day in Demopolis and one in Linden. On-call crews will also be available.

“We’ve been going at it for the last two weeks,” Snipes said. “We had some renovation things we had to do to this building, and stayed up until 2 or 3 in the morning some nights for the past week.”

Snipes said people who need an ambulance should call 911 for emergencies and the ambulance office at 289-9110 in Demopolis or 295-8444 in Linden for non-emergencies.

“We are very excited about serving the community,” Snipes said. “We’re going to try to improve on some things that Tombigbee did in the past. Some of the billing issues will probably be more simple. We’ve got a third-party billing service — Ambulance Billing Service in West Point, Ga. — and they are happy to answer any questions pertaining to bills.”

Tombigbee Emergency Medical Service gave 32 years of service to Demopolis and Marengo County, but costs forced the Tombigbee Healthcare Authority to eliminate the service and seek an independent service. With the dedication that its employees have shown over the years, perhaps AmStar can continue that tradition for years to come.