Spring River Paramedic

Ambulance Service

A History Spring River Paramedic Ambulance Service

By 1974, Cherokee Village was approaching 20 years of existence, with a population of  about 2,000 residents.  Many of the Village's residents were from populated areas where rapid, professional emergency services were considered a fact of life.  Although Cherokee Village's fire department had been founded several years earlier, the residents of this area depended on services from outside the area, or even funeral homes, for their emergency medical needs.

Modern emergency medical service, of the type we enjoy today, had it's beginnings in the 1960's.  At that time, the level of EMS response could vary widely from place to place, and even some larger cities had emergency medical service little better than that found in rural areas.  By 1974 several of the community's residents had recognized the need for ambulance service in this area.  As stated in a February 1985 Cherokee Villager article “ In October of 1974, 12 people were appointed by Desiree Meyer, President of the P.O.A., and charged with the task of organizing an ambulance service.”

Cherokee Village Ambulance Service was incorporated in January 1975, and began operations in March.  $14,000 was available from fund raising efforts to purchase the service's first fully equipped ambulance.  A second ambulance was purchased in the service's second year to cover when the first unit was on a call, and in 1976 the Quorum Court contributed $2000 for the service to cover the north half of Sharp County.

In the beginning, the Cherokee Village Ambulance Service answered about 15 calls per month.  By the mid-1980's about 50 to 60 calls per month were typical.  The service now responds to about 250 calls per month.

The original volunteer crews were dispatched by telephone, and typically were on duty for a week at a time.  Later volunteer crews, which usually consisted of a driver and either two basic EMTs or an EMT and a first responder, would be on duty for 48 hours at a time and were dispatched by radio pagers.  Well over 300 people served as volunteers over the service's first 20 years of operation.

Training has always been an important aspect of the Service's operation.  The first EMT class in Arkansas was taught in Ash Flat in 1974.  Since then, around 25 EMT classes of various levels have been taught, scores of CPR classes have been held for both service members and the public, and many hundreds of hours of continuing education classes have been conducted for the Service's medical personnel.

Many important milestones have been reached over the Service's thirty years of operation.  In 1991, CVAS became an Enhanced Basic Life Support service, which allowed crew members to use electrical defibrillation for patients in cardiac arrest.  Two years later the Service upgraded to an Intermediate level license which allowed EMTs to provide IV therapy to patients.  The final upgrade came in 1995 when the Service became a fully paid service at the Paramedic level, the highest level of license generally available to ambulance services in the state.  All of these steps required ever increasing levels of training for crew members, and were in part motivated by the need to provide advanced level care when transferring patients from the local hospital to more distant medical facilities.  Also in 1991, Cherokee Village Ambulance Service was honored as Ambulance Service of the Year for the state of Arkansas, and the next year was named National EMS Service of the Year. 

Although Cherokee Village Ambulance Service has provided service to much of the north part of Sharp County since very early in it's history, in 1999 a name change to Spring River Paramedic Ambulance Service officially recognized the service's regional nature.

In 1997 the ambulance service portion of the Ozark Acres Fire Department and Ambulance Service was consolidated with the Cherokee Village Ambulance Service, and until 2006 SRPAS had operated two stations, one known as “The Pines” at the intersection of Iroquois and Allegheny in Cherokee Village, and the other located near the fire station in Ozark Acres.  In July 2006,  SRPAS began covering the area formerly served by Lifecare EMS of Cave City, thus expanding its area to include all of Sharp County.  A third station was added at that time, located between Evening Shade and Cave City.

SRPAS now has six fully equipped and licensed paramedic level ambulances.  Including the office staff, SRPAS has twenty-one full-time employees, which includes thirteen that are paramedics and eight that are certified at the Basic or Intermediate level.  Every crew that responds to an emergency call includes at least one paramedic.