State Shuts Down CareOne EMS

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The doors are closed at a River Valley emergency service. CareOne EMS substations in both Barling and Van Buren are plastered with big, yellow signs which state they're no longer in business.

That's after the State Department of Finance and Administration shut them down for not paying the withholding tax of their employees.

Mike Hines, with Southwest EMS said he wasn't surprised when he heard the news.

"It's unusual to operate an ambulance service when you don't have a contract service with anyone," Hines said.

"They haven't affected the care or the service in our region at all," Tim Hearn, with Fort Smith EMS, said. "So I don't know. I don't know how to comment on CareOne. I know who they are. Nice people, nice owner. But not sure what they're issues are."

The state told 5NEWS that they can't comment on how much CareOne EMS owes, but did say they won't be allowed to re-open until they file and pay their withholding tax. That means they'll no longer be providing emergency services in the River Valley.

Even though CareOne EMS is no longer operating, Fort Smith EMS said they've been handling at least 90 percent of the calls out of Barling for the last several years. Hearn said Fort Smith EMS is responsible for 100 percent of 911 calls.

"They are not and never have been a 911 provider for the city of Barling," Hearn explained.

Until further notice, Southwest EMS and Fort Smith EMS will handle emergency calls in the area.

"[Patients] should not be concerned about the availability of an ambulance to take care of them," Hines said. "Anytime they need the ambulance just call 911."

"Nothing has changed in service," Hearn said. "Nothing at all."

5NEWS did talk with Wes McCabe, who operates CareOne EMS with his wife, Crystal, over the phone. He said his family is trying to do the right thing and take care of their financial problems. McCabe declined to talk with us about his situation, or the future of CareOne EMS on camera.