Paramedics fight tears as Whitney EMS shuts down - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |

WHITNEY

Paramedics fight tears as Whitney EMS shuts down

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WHITNEY -

A couple dozen workers are out of a job and this weekend Whitney is relying on ambulance service miles away.

They've been working for 42 years and on Friday afternoon, the Lake Whitney Medical Center EMS closed its doors. Director Jimmy Hoskins even gave his final call just after 5 o'clock while his fellow workers and family fought back tears in the background.

"It's a sad day, but financially it was a decision that had to be made unfortunately," Hoskins said.

The EMS closed because the Lake Whitney Medical Center didn't have enough money. David Byrns with the Medical Center says that's because after the new ownership their contract for the county would have been cut in half from $20,000 to $10,000. Byrns says they couldn't do that. He also says he offered an at cost price to cover the city, but the mayor opted to go somewhere else.

This weekend that means Hillsboro will provide ambulance service for Whitney which is roughly 20 miles away. The Whitney fire department, though, says they can still provide medical service.

"It's going to be business as usual for us. It may take a few more minutes for an ambulance to get there but business as usual," fire chief Wyland Price said. "It's a little concern but not much because we can do a lot of the things an ambulance can do."

However, it's not just the immediacy of the Medical Center EMS. The 24 workers, 12 full-time knew the ins and outs of the city. They also care deeply for the people.

"The quality of people is not my concern, it's knowing our area and being able to get to the people in the most timely manner," paramedic Sarah Apuan said. "We care for them like we care for our grandparents or an aunt or an uncle or a child."

Apuan and Hoskins say they really didn't expect this to come down today, but they weren't entirely surprised. When the Medical Center changed owners, it was always a question in their minds. Friday at noon, they got a call telling them for sure the EMS was shutting down. Both call the EMS a family.

"It's so sad, we've been through so much together. We've gone through some really hard times out here," Apuan said.

Hoskins says the 12 full time workers don't have a job lined up and are currently looking, but that's not their first priority. Their major concern is the safety of the community.

"Going forward, the patients are going to be taken care of," Hoskins said.

"One way or another we're going to be fine, we're worried about our people," Apuan said.  

Hillsboro EMS will service Whitney until early next week until North Bosque EMS can take over.

Price says the city of Whitney could actually have its own ambulance in as early as a month. Hoskins says they'd be willing to work for them, but it's a long time to wait.  

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