Hespe assures ambulance service

By: 
Alexis Barker

Alexis Barker

NLJ News Editor

 

Roger Hespe, owner of Newcastle Ambulance Service, assured both the board of Weston County Commissioners and the Weston County Health Services board of trustees that the county would not be without an ambulance service. Hespe, who plans to retire and to sell his ambulance, addressed both boards during meetings last week. 

“My interest is in the community. I want a good, qualified service here that is going to go into the future. That is my goal,” Hespe told the commissioners on March 16. “I gave the deadline that I would like to be done. … If it takes a bit longer,” Hespe told the hospital board on March 18. “I would stay in business; for the county it is important. The people here have been good to me. I have been very humbled the last few months.” 

Hespe also told both boards that several parties are interested in the business. 

“That eased my mind a lot right there,” Commissioner Ed Wagoner said. 

As for what the business model would look like for the future of private ambulance services in Weston County, Hespe said that would depend on the buyer. He noted that a county wide service is possible but not guaranteed. 

“Probably 12 years ago I had talked to the commissioners about that. … At the time, Upton was able to take care of that,” Hespe said. “Now there are personnel problems in Upton and Osage.” 

According to John Strong, of the Upton Volunteer Fire Department, volunteers for the Upton Ambulance Service are dwindling and finding volunteers to help fill the roles is hard to do. He told the commissioners during the March 16 meeting that his crew does what they can to respond, but there are times they end up aiding the Newcastle Ambulance Service. 

Hespe reiterated the struggle to find volunteers for ambulance services, noting that paid personnel is less of an issue. However, a county wide private ambulance service is possible, he said. 

“Do I think a private service could cover the whole thing (Weston County)? Yes, I Do,” Hespe told the commissioners. “I think it would have a different look than what we have now. Everyone (Upton and Osage services) is trying, and we are glad to help when we can. We have not missed a call to help anyone.” 

Hespe said he is not sure what the future of private EMS will look like. He added that he will share his knowledge and help to whoever purchases the business, if needed. 

“I am not going to leave the community high and dry. Anyone could walk into the service, change the punch code and go to work. I have things in place that allow that,” Hespe said. 

Despite the assurances from Hespe,  the hospital would continue exploring its options, said Connie James, chairman of the WCHS board of trustees. 

“Don’t worry too much,” Hespe said. “WCHS has been good to me, we have had a great working relationship. You won’t be without an ambulance.”

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