The City of Prestonsburg is now operating an emergency response ambulance service. The city began transporting patients on Tuesday. House Bill 777, a KLC initiative legislators passed in the 2022 Regular Session, removed roadblocks that resulted in the city waiting years for permission to operate the service.
Representative Ken Fleming (R-Louisville) sponsored the measure that addressed several emergency medical services (EMS) topics. The bill provided options for local governments and hospitals to operate an ambulance service without a CON. The city had to conduct a public hearing that demonstrated an imperative need existed in the community.
Prestonsburg Mayor and KLC Board Member Les Stapleton said the service is critical to the health and safety of the city. He testified several times about the city’s crisis and told an interim committee in 2021 that the lack of available ambulances resulted in people waiting up to 45 minutes after calling 911. The city applied for a CON in January 2020 but could never get a hearing with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS).
On Tuesday, Mayor Stapleton thanked the legislators who supported House Bill 777 and helped the city address the problem. “We started this process about three-and-a-half years ago, and it’s been an uphill battle all the way,” he stated. “With the support of the Kentucky League of Cities, we changed the law.”
The Prestonsburg Fire Department now offers basic life support (BLS) and advanced life support (ALS) care within the city limits. KLC Executive Director|CEO James D. Chaney noted that Mayor Stapleton’s commitment to finding a solution for his city played a significant role in the CON language in House Bill 777.
“We have a long record of trusting our local governments with providing the services their citizens demand,” responded House Local Government Chairman Michael Meredith (R-Oakland), who also serves on the EMS Task Force House Bill 777 created. “Mayor Stapleton and the leaders of the City of Prestonsburg recognized the need for more reliable emergency medical services for their citizens and have sought to provide that service for several years. Previous laws prevented them from providing these services. I was happy to work with other legislators to remove the obstacles so the citizens of Prestonsburg could benefit from these enhanced emergency services. Mayor Stapleton has been a great advocate for these needed changes.”
“Public safety is at the very core of what cities do for the people they serve,” Chaney said. “Mayor Stapleton made sure his voice was heard in Frankfort. This is a great example of how local officials can enact change if they speak up, get involved, and advocate for their community.”