In a situation that makes us think there are crop circles involved or some kind of M. Night Shyamalan “GOTCHA!” twist, a private ambulance service that transported more than 500,000 patients a year in six states has suddenly closed for business. There was no explanation given and no warning that those customers would be left without a ride.
The company, First Med EMS based in Wilmington, N.C., had clients at hospitals and other medical facilities in more than 70 areas in Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia, reports NBC News. So when it closed its doors and vehicles over the weekend with reportedly nary a warning to anyone, those cities had to scramble to find alternate transportation.
A lot of First Med’s business was the kind that doesn’t involve emergency situations. Instead of car accidents and the like, the company’s ambulances did things like shuttling dialysis patients to treatments and bringing nursing home patients to doctors’ appointments. So it’s to be hoped that officials in the affected cities can fill in the service gaps without too much trouble for those patients.
The company’s website is currently “down for maintenance” and unanswered calls to the corporate offices makes it seem as if no one’s home. But it did issue a brief statement to 13NewsNow, saying: “The company is no longer in business. At this time they are not giving any explanation for their sudden closure. No further comment.”
In the meantime it’s not just the public that’s shocked — company workers have been checking in on Facebook and Twitter reporting that they were told the company had declared bankruptcy. There are no documents to that effect on file in U.S. Bankruptcy Court or in North Carolina, however.
“The unfortunate thing was lack of notice,” an ambulance service director for a medical center in Parkersburg, W.Va., said. “They closed up shop on Friday, and people were scrambling to get to their appointments all weekend, plus early this week.”
Those workers who did show up for work over the weekend either heard the news from colleagues or realized it when faced with locked doors.
First Med reportedly started calling many dispatchers in several cities on Friday and Saturday and told them to begin shutting things down and to not take any calls for emergency transports. Anyone in the middle of a shift was told to just go home.
“We didn’t know what to do,” an emergency medical technician in West Virginia said. “They told us to turn our truck in, to turn our equipment in. That was it,” he said. “It was done so shadily and so behind closed doors.”