A guy experiencing dyspnea was the subject of a call to Pickens County emergency dispatch on Christmas night.
However, the sole ambulance service for the county was forty minutes distant, having dropped off a different patient at a Tuscaloosa hospital. According to Vicky Sullivan McCrory, the paramedic manager of Pickens County Ambulance Service, fog had grounded the medical helicopters and prevented additional ambulances from responding to the call in nearby counties.
Rodney Hall Sr. had passed away by the time she and her team arrived at the scene, which was over an hour later. Raised as a single father, he had witnessed his two children watch him fight for air and eventually pass away during the protracted wait.
Having worked in Pickens region for thirty years, McCrory said that this specific terrible incident brought to light the hardships the region’s citizens had faced since the local hospital closed in 2020. Because of the revenue loss and increased difficulty in recruiting and retaining certified EMTs, the ambulance service was also negatively impacted by the shutdown. According to McCrory, the county only employs enough people to run one or two ambulances at a time these days.
McCrory told AL.com, “The one from Christmas night, that should have never happened.” I firmly believe that he would still be alive today if we had stayed local, entered the county, and arrived at the scene quickly. Regarding it, I have no doubts.
McCrory discussed the call in a Facebook post on December 26. She claimed that she was constantly concerned about the two youngsters whom Hall had left behind.
“I try not to get too attached to this, but when you walk in and see the expressions on his kids’ faces, you can see that things are getting worse,” McCrory remarked. You are bound to feel things. It also shouldn’t take place. When you can’t breathe, you shouldn’t have to wait 1.5 hours for an ambulance in 2023.
According to DeLacio Spencer, the eldest son of Hall, his father briefly resided in Chattanooga but later moved back to Pickens County with his younger children in order to save money and raise them in a rural environment. Hall participated actively in youth sports, according to Spencer.
Spencer clarified, “He wasn’t just a biological father to one group of kids.” “He was a dad in the community.”
Hall had experienced a number of disasters lately. After his wife passed away, he was left to raise his two youngest children alone. He was given a diabetes diagnosis and experienced complications that required amputations.
Spencer claimed that after contracting COVID on a few occasions, the virus made him feeble.
He replied, “It weighed heavily on him.”
The family was collecting money for a burial for Hall’s second son, who passed away lately, which made things worse. Hall passed away without life insurance or a funeral, so they now need to raise even more money to bury him.
Spencer has started a GoFundMe campaign to support the family. He is curious about the events leading up to his father’s demise.
Spencer remarked, “Well, one of my questions is what about the neighboring counties.” “Are they not in stock? Do the medevacs not exist? And how can we make that scenario different? I am aware that things would have been very different in Pickens County if the hospital had remained open.
Ambulance services are not obligated to be supported by municipal and county governments, in contrast to other emergency services like fire and police. Pickens does not have taxes or fees to support them, unlike some, according to McCrory.
According to McCrory, the ambulance industry is dependent on payments from insurance providers and patients. When the nearby hospital closed, the Pickens County Ambulance Service lost around half of that revenue, according to her.
There are more rural counties with understaffed and underfunded ambulance services besides this one. In neighboring Greene County, the final ambulance service nearly went out of business last year. Recently, the EMS departments at Smith’s Station and Livingston closed.
Although Hall’s family is struggling to provide for the two boys he left behind, McCrory stated she hopes to bring attention to the issue so local authorities can come up with a solution. She claimed that people are passing away in her community and similar ones.
McCrory stated, “This is not the first time it has happened here.” “It occurs far too frequently. In the United States of America, where access to both emergency medical care and medical treatment is expected. And it seems as though no one else knows about us.