Ambulance Service to WinStar Casino Nets New Staff, Vehicles
Posted on Wednesday, March 2nd, 2005
Off-Road Emergency Service: Medics Jeff Hicks and Obie Heath, EMS Director Tad Hall, and Hospital Administrator Richard Barker are pictured with the recently-acquired four-wheel drive vehicle that takes medics and first responders to places ambulances cannot reach. Hicks is one of six new medics hired as a result of a contract to provide services to Winstar Casinos.
Love County has strengthened its emergency response capability, thanks to a contract with Chickasaw Enterprises - Winstar Casinos.
Six new medics, one brand-new, fully-equipped ambulance, and a medically-equipped Suburban for off-highway response have been added to Love County’s emergency services since last fall.
The new staff and equipment are the result of an agreement developed by Mercy Health/Love County Hospital and Clinic and the Love County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Board to provide 24-hour on-site ambulance service at Winstar Casinos in Thackerville.
According to the Chickasaw Times newspaper of December 2004, Winstar employs more than 1,150 local residents of Oklahoma and Texas. It serves 3,000 to 4,000 guests on an average weekday, “with much larger crowds flocking to the 190,000 square foot facility each weekend to enjoy electronic gaming, paper-play bingo and off-track betting, as well as three restaurants, a deli and a 1,200 seat theater.”
Each Saturday and Sunday, the article went on, approximately 25 chartered buses bring patrons from as far away as San Antonio. A Microtel Inn and Suites is scheduled to open this spring and plans for the site include a larger hotel and convention center and a golf course, family entertainment center and RV park.
“We have been dispatching ambulances to the gaming center, the same as any other call in Love County, for the past 10 years. The number of calls has increased with the casino enlargements last year and this year. We have now formalized arrangements in a way that helps the casino and their patrons and all of Love County,” said Richard Barker, hospital administrator.
To enact the contract, Chickasaw Enterprises purchased a new ambulance for the Love County EMS fleet and paid the cost of installing an ambulance bay and crew quarters on casino grounds for ambulance crews. In addition, it pays a contractual amount each year to cover the cost of keeping an ambulance and two medics on site around the clock.
As for any other clients, patients transported by ambulance to the emergency room in Marietta are billed for the cost of transport.
The new ambulance brought the local EMS fleet up to four fully-equipped vehicles. With the funding freed up in its ambulance purchase budget, the EMS Board purchased a used four-wheel Chevy Suburban from the New York City Fire Department.
The Suburban carries rescue and medical equipment and is dispatched with an ambulance to off-road emergencies. It can transport medics and first responders through pastures and across rough ground. Regular ambulances are too heavy to safely leave roadways.
The Suburban is also available for dispatch by area volunteer fire departments and search and rescue crews. “It contains a disaster kit, has emergency lights, and is valuable for traffic control,” pointed out Tad Hall, P.A., the hospital’s EMS supervisor.
“The ambulance at Winstar Casinos is mandated to respond to any calls in the Thackerville area and Interstate 35. When that ambulance leaves Winstar, whether with a patient from the casino or headed to a local-area response off casino grounds, an ambulance from the hospital in Marietta starts south. The crews and ambulances switch positions. That way, we have two crew members and an ambulance on duty in both places at all times, with the remaining two vehicles on stand-by,” Barker explained.
Barker said the hospital is in a position to contract for other medical services, such as industrial health, employee wellness, and first aid with Chickasaw Enterprises-Winstar Casinos.
“We are fortunate to have the trained personnel and the business capability to provide the services they may need,” Barker said. “It is a tremendous advantage for Love County to expand our medical and emergency staff and equipment in this way,” he said.
“Over the past 10 years, the hospital has worked closely with the EMS Board to elevate our level of certification from basic up to paramedic staffing and equipment. We are now able to administer more life-saving measures than ever before,” Barker added. “Service at this level is valuable to the people of Love County and Chickasaw Enterprises sees it as valuable to their business, too.”
“Linda Briggs from Marietta, chair of the Chickasaw Legislature, has been instrumental in forging relationships between Love County organizations and the Chickasaw Nation. We have been working with the CEO of Chickasaw Enterprises, Brian Campbell, and we confer with the medical director of the Chickasaw Nation and the heads of security for the Nation and for Winstar,” Barker said.
The six new medics bring the total EMS staff to 17. Serving under Hall and Dr. J.T. O’Connor, Medical Director, are paramedics John Gilliam, Stacey Cummins, David Manning, Mike Langford, Bob Hargis, Ken McColly, Jeff McGuire, Tracy Walker, Darcy Robinette, Terry Birks, and Gerald Kuhlman; and medics Obie Heath, June Standridge, Jeff Hicks, and Jesse Snelson.