PRESTONSBURG — The QuestCare ambulance fleet was brought out for inspection Tuesday, following two months of speculation about the company’s future.
Investigators with the Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services were out in force Tuesday morning, at Big Sandy Community and Technical College campus in Prestonsburg, to inspect the fleet of QuestCare ambulances.
Mike Poynter, executive director of KBEMS, said the inspection was called by his office to determine the current state of QuestCare’s fleet of ambulances, following recent decisions by the board to park over half of the vehicles after reports that many of them lacked air conditioning.
“We’re here to help them, but they’ve got to meet the minimum standards according to law,” said Poynter. Poynter called the time leading up to the August 2 deadline a “grace period” that was a courtesy extended by KBEMS to help QuestCare fix the problems with their ambulances.
Poynter said that no resolution would come Tuesday, but that the investigators would take their findings back to the board to review, and then a decision would be handed down.
Terry Dossett, vice president of operations with QuestCare, says he expects his full fleet to be deemed ready to go back into service, though admits that he will have to replace some of the older ambulances. “We’re going to buy some new trucks that’s just the facts of life.”
According to Dossett, there is significant problem with the Ford six-cylinder, diesel ambulances, and he said all of the ambulances cited for air conditioning defects were of that type. Dossett described more than half the fleet being out of commission as “just a little out of the ordinary.”
When asked about the complaints made about the air conditioning in the ambulances, Dossett said that KBEMS notified them of one complaint, but never actually provided any complaint in writing.
A three-member panel was convened July 5 to hear the case of QuestCare Ambulance Services and make recommendations after several violations were found, including a lack of air conditioning in more than a dozen of the ambulances. All but six of the 21 ambulances listed on QuestCare’s license have been, and remain, parked due to maintenance issues, though Dossett said on Tuesday that seven of those ambulances parked for maintenance issues were already parked when KBEMS notified them of the complaints about the air conditioning.
On Monday, an agent of Tran-Star Ambulance Service and former 95th District Rep. Brandon Spencer released a statement concerning QuestCare’s recent troubles.
“There has been an overwhelming amount of public concern due to the possible shutdown of QuestCare Ambulance service. There has also been a large amount of negative media attention directed toward QuestCare in which Trans-Star Ambulance Service has not been mentioned. The management team of Trans-Star Ambulance Service wants you to know we are still providing countywide services to your communities. In addition, we want to insure you that our ambulances are in optimal operating condition, as required by the Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services.”
Dossett declined to comment on whether or not he believed rival ambulance companies were the driving force behind the KBEMS investigation.