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Iberville residents welcome 24-hour paramedic coverage

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ST. GABRIEL - Residents with medical emergencies on the east bank of Iberville Parish are about to experience shorter wait times to see paramedics. Parish leaders cut the ribbon on a new ambulance facility that will provide 24-hour paramedic coverage for St. Gabriel and towns nearby.

Sally Gentry is missing a middle finger after a bizarre accident with her dogs. She has no problem talking about it now.

"Bit the end of my finger off," Gentry said.

When it happened a couple of years ago that was the least of Gentry's worries. When she called for help, there were no paramedics nearby.

"I was alone at that point in time," Gentry said. "I most likely needed to get medical assistance quickly."

A helicopter landing and ribbon cutting were all part of a high profile unveiling of a brand new 24-hour facility. Residents, community leaders and Sheriff Brett Stassi believe it's long overdue.

"For sure it will cut down on times for accidents and surely save lives," Sheriff Stassi said.

Currently, Iberville Parish has a $1.2 million dollar contract with Acadian Ambulance to provide paramedic services for the parish. Residents pay an ambulance tax for that service. Today's set up is part of that existing contract between the parish and Acadian Ambulance, but the parish had to set up the facility for them. It cost about $42,000 for the facility and the limestone used in the construction. The parish council approved the measure.

Sheriff Stassi says the east bank of Iberville Parish pays half of the ambulance taxes. For that reason, he says it's about time the East Bank gets the same level of service as the west bank.

"For too long, they've been the stepchild," Stassi said. "I'm glad to be able to bring it to this side."

St. Gabriel Mayor Lionel Johnson has worried for years what would happen if his loved ones or constituents had a medical emergency and the paramedics were gone.

"It was very scary," Johnson said. "You hold your breath for every call hoping Acadian could get here within a reasonable amount of time."

As this new facility quells fears, people like Sally Gentry are comforted knowing medical emergencies will receive proper attention, no matter what time of day or night.

"Many times people need immediate assistance, and we haven't had that with part-time ambulance service," Gentry said.


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