Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014
WILLISTON, S.C. (WRDW) -- Williston Rescue Squad, the private ambulance company that covers Barnwell County and beyond, is ending its operations as an emergency medical service provider.
The company has been in business since 1972 and employs roughly 40 full-time employees.
"Events over the last several years have placed the rescue squad in a position where we can no longer continue to provide those services," says Director Phil Clarke in a press release.
In early 2013, Williston Rescue Squad was forced to begin making monthly payments to the federal government. The company was fined $800,000 for false Medicare claims. Investigators with the United States Justice Department say the rescue squad billed Medicare for routine, non-emergency ambulance rides that were not medically necessary and created false documents to make those rides appear to be covered under Medicare guidelines.
Aiken County also recently terminated its contract with the company for non-emergent services. The company was found to be operating out of a gun store, which is against county ordinance. County ordinance stipulates the company must have a headquarters in Aiken County too where calls are dispatched and operations are run.
County Councilman Keith Sloan is saddened by the news. He says Williston Rescue Squad will continue its contract with the county until March 31. Sloan says Palmetto Southern Hospital will then contract another service for a hopefully seamless transition.
"Williston Rescue Squad will work with the new provider to ensure a smooth transition," the release said. "The citizens of Barnwell County will continue to receive the quality patient care that they have grown accustom to from Williston Rescue Squad."
Due to good pay and other factors, many of the medics at Williston Rescue Squad are highly trained. Clarke tells News 12 that many of his guys will hopefully go to work with the new private EMS contractor.
"The only things that should change are the uniforms and the name on the ambulance," Clarke said.