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EMS committee recommends Sumter County establish its own ambulance service

Hundreds attended an EMS committee meeting in Wildwood Wednesday night. Photo: Joe Byrnes, WMFE
Hundreds attended an EMS committee meeting in Wildwood Wednesday night. Photo: Joe Byrnes, WMFE

A special committee is recommending Sumter County operate its own county-wide ambulance service after seniors in The Villages complained of long delays.

That option wasn't on the list of possible solutions.

Hundreds packed the Wildwood Community Center Wednesday night. Many spoke in defense of The Villages fire department and against the idea of consolidating it with Sumter County Fire Rescue.

The committee voted first to rule that out.

But it does not want to keep using the private contractor AMR or give the fire departments responsibility for medical transport.

Committee member Leland Greek, a former county fire chief, argued for the separate, county-run ambulance service.

"And the main reason for that is, by a single entity providing for the entire county, you're going to have greater resources, which will help buffer those times when you have system overload," he said after the meeting.

The committee backed his plan 3-2 and will vote on a recommendation letter for the County Commission in two weeks.

If the County Commission approves this idea, the handover would still be more than a year away.

Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.