Ambulance company pulls out leaving Sussex in a 'frightening' spot

Posted at 5:02 PM, Jun 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-05 17:02:35-04

SUSSEX COUNTY, Va. -- A dispute over money between Sussex County and Lifestar Ambulance Service, the company that provided paid emergency medical services (EMS) to the county, has left Sussex scrambling to find volunteer Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs).

Lifestar had worked with Sussex for a decade, but recently Sussex leaders informed the company the county intended to end its contract.

"The Board of Supervisors said we’ve lost over $300,000 in lost billing revenue that we should have gotten and we decided we need to sever our relationship with Lifestar," Sussex Supervisor Eric Fly said.

The contract allowed for there to be a 60-day window for Lifestar to wind down operations and give the county time to figure out how to meet the medical needs of its citizens.

“They just packed up their stuff and walked out," Waverly Mayor Angela McPhayl said.

When asked to comment on the situation, a Lifestar spokesperson sent a statement that read, “Lifestar was advised that our contract for emergency services with the county was terminated without cause. Any questions about emergency services in Sussex County should be directed to their County Administrator or Chief of Emergency Services.” 

“They essentially left us with no ambulance service in the county," Fly added. "It put every citizen’s life in Sussex County in danger.”

In order to close the gap in services, Sussex sought help from volunteers like paramedic Michael Whapham.

"I figured I grew up in Waverly, I got my foundation for EMS in Waverly, it’s the least I can do is come back for a day, just to help them out and do what I can," Whapham said.

"We are definitely trying to pull everybody together to make sure that the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens are protected," McPhayl added.

Officials in both Sussex County and the Town of Waverly said they’re doing all they can to make sure they have enough volunteers to staff the squads. 

“It’s very frightening right now," Fly said. "We’re an aging population and to think something would go wrong right now, it’s not a good position to be in.”

County leaders said intended to recoup the $300,000 they believe Lifestar owes Sussex for billing clients during the past 12 months.

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