Rural Vermont ambulance services struggle to survive

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GLOVER, Vt. (WCAX) Communities in the Northeast Kingdom are pushing to keep emergency services alive.

This year alone, two different EMS bays have closed their doors. Derby Line Ambulance shut down in January after some financial issues, leaving Newport to take over. Barton Ambulance closed down this month, as well, leaving the rural area with fewer options.

But EMS officials in the Northeast Kingdom are stepping up.

"When the people in Barton call 911, an ambulance will show up," Adam Heuslein said.

Heuslein is the chief of Glover ambulance which, along with Orleans, has picked up the slack left by Barton's closure. He says the coverage area between Orleans, Barton and Glover is unique-- two ambulances responsible for three small neighboring municipalities.

"The response, I would say, is probably a little bit faster than it has been in the past mainly because everybody is listening," Heuslein said.

The majority volunteer group has increased its coverage crews to help fill in the gaps, but Heuslein says volunteers are hard to come by in general.

"If you want to keep ambulances in your area, they need members, be willing to sign up for a course somewhere to become a member. Ambulance services need funding," he said.

With a larger coverage area than before, Glover staff members say their expenses will still go up. And they have not been able to make as many hospital transfers, which has cut their cash flow, but state EMS administrators say they are working aggressively to find solutions to the issue.

State EMS leaders say there will be a meeting this coming Monday to discuss what to do next with Barton ambulance and hopefully come up with a solution.

The town of Brighton originally had a contract with Lyndon Rescue to provide EMS service, but not anymore, leaving the town without a permanent ambulance. Town officials say Newport is expected to cover the town on a weekly basis until a permanent solution is found.