GOLDSBORO (WTVD) --Karen Cotton just found out she's going to be a grandmother. This good news comes as she's still putting another child through college and as she found out she's now out of a job.
"Taking it hour by hour," Cotton said.
Cotton has been a volunteer EMT Basic for eight years but started working for Johnston Ambulance Service seven months ago.
Johnston Ambulance Service, or JAS, closed for good at 7 p.m. Wednesday night. The company's owner since 1999, Maynard Price, said this has been brewing for years.
"We've had problems collecting," said Price. "Medicare has done cuts, crossover money has stopped, and we've had harder and harder times of collecting funds to operate with."
The company usually handles non-emergency services, providing transportation for patients from dialysis centers, doctor visits and nursing homes. Price said the company has been around for 35 years and has been serving 17 counties in central and eastern North Carolina. Those include Durham, Johnston and Wake counties.
"We're the largest ambulance in the state," Price said. He went on to say they provide anywhere between 250 to 300 trips a day.
He said they notified all the county emergency services and nursing homes on Tuesday, as well as their almost 400 employees.
Fletcher Carmichael is another one of those employees on that long list. He said being in this industry is all he ever wanted to do and that he became an EMT Basic when he got out of the military.
He started working at JAS only a year ago. He said his father used to work at this same company before he passed away.
"It's a devastating blow," Carmichael said. For him, coming to work really was like seeing family. Many at JAS knew him when he was small.
"We spend a lot of time together, a lot," Carmichael said.
"Everybody is family," said Cotton. "I'm going to do the best I can do to find another job like this; this is what I love to do."
To fill the hole JAS will leave behind, Josh Holloman, Assistant Director and EMS Division Chief with Johnston County Emergency Services, said they've reached out to other private companies.
He confirmed they will continue to work with North State Medical Transport and now also with Samaritan Ambulance. He also pointed out that JAS is not involved in emergency transportation and 911 calls so response times will not be affected.
Durham County Emergency Medical Services echoed a similar plan. On its website it said it will also use North State Medical Transport and said the company will be ramping up services to make up for the loss of JAS. It said Durham County EMS will continue to respond to 911 calls.
As far as what's next for the owner of JAS, he said he's taking that day by day.
"It could be that another company may come in and want to take over," Price said. "That would be a miracle."
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