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ONLY ON 3: Brunswick Co. footing bill to cover private ambulance company's service cuts

READ MORE: ONLY ON 3: Brunswick Co. footing bill to cover private ambulance company's service cuts

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -- Brunswick County is scrambling trying to figure out how to fill the gap left behind when a private ambulance company made big staff cuts this week. Amera-Tech gave the county little notice it was laying off EMTs, which left emergency services in a bind.

Amera-Tech responded to non-emergency calls transporting, on average, 7,400 patients a year in Brunswick County.

The company most recently made headlines in October, when one of its ambulance drivers was charged with running a red light and killing a 19-year-old woman.

Friday, the company's owner, Ervin Jacobs, called Brunswick County EMS Director Brian Watts.

"Basically he told me that they were going to need to be cutting back and starting monday morning would not be able to provide the non-emergency ambulance services that they had provided for so long," Watts said.

Watts knew Amera-Tech was having financial problems, but he didn't realize he would only be get 72 hours notice.

Amera-Tech is one of two private ambulance franchises in Brunswick County. Now that it is no longer offering medical transports, the county has had to step up and fill in the hole.

"We were able to, starting Monday morning, staff up some extra ambulances and put a process in place to take the calls and to prioritize the calls, dispatch the calls and actually do the transports," Watts said.

The county is using part time employees and paying overtime. It's a move that is affecting its budget.

"I wanted to do this as fiscally responsible as possible as I can, but at the same time it's a service that has to be provided, so we've got to be able to balance the service provided with the cost," Watts said.

The county is looking into a long term solution.

We called Jacobs and left several messages. He has not returned our call.

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