Residents in six states are scrambling for medical transportation after First Med EMS, a private ambulance service that served more than 500,000 patients a year, shut down with no warning Friday. The company was based in North Carolina and also served areas in Kentucky, Ohio (where it was the largest EMS service), South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia, NBC News reports. The incredibly abrupt shutdown left hundreds jobless, Virginia's WVEC reports; NBC says 1,500 are out of a job in Ohio alone. The company, which also used the names TransMed, Life Ambulance, and MedCorp, employed about 2,300.
Employees have some pretty crazy stories: finding out on Facebook they no longer had a job, being told to go home in the middle of a shift, showing up for work only to find the doors locked. At least one North Carolina county declared a state of emergency yesterday, but other officials say the impact won't be disastrous, since much of the transportation was for non-emergency care (like taking patients to their dialysis treatments). Even so, "people were scrambling to get to their appointments all weekend, plus early this week," says an ambulance service director. No official word from the company, but some workers are saying it declared bankruptcy. There was no record of that as of yesterday.