GEMS Ambulance provides a much needed service

Published 1:57 pm Thursday, March 25, 2010

There are some businesses that one hopes to never need to call upon, though they are universally appreciated.

Lisa and Wayne Garlock run such a business.

The Garlocks run GEMS Ambulance and have done so since 1999.

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The two have worked in the emergency medical field for over 28 years. The couple, who were both born and raised in Greenville, can remember a time when private ambulance companies weren’t heavily relied on.

“We started out volunteering with the Butler County Rescue Squad in the early 90s,” Lisa said. “Back in the early days, anyone could be on a rescue squad.”

Soon, the state passed more stringent guidelines, requiring EMTs to have more formal training.

“A lot of people didn’t wanted to pursue the extra education,” Lisa said. “We both took an EMT class and found out it was something we would be interested in doing as a profession.”

No local area hospitals had their own ambulance service, Lisa said. When regulations got tough, Lisa said rescue squads started falling out of existence. Private companies stepped in to take their place.

Originally, the Garlocks operated the company under the name Greenville Emergency Medical Services, before it was reopened as GEMS. Since locals were familiar with the name, that’s what they chose when they got back into the business in 1999.

Each year, GEMS has to apply for a franchise permit, to allow them to serve the area. The city council has to approve their permit for them to continue operations, a measure that has been in place since Greenville re-thought its emergency services.

Now, they work hand in hand with the fire department.

“We answer calls from the north end of Butler County,” Lisa said. “The fire department handles anything inside the corporate city limits, though we will back them up. We do all transports from the nursing home to the hospital, and out of town transports.”

Wayne Garlock said at times, the job can be mentally taxing.

“Sometimes it gets you down, but you are there to serve a purpose, which is to help the people,” Wayne said. “You just have to brush it off and do what you are trained to do.”

Lisa agreed, saying a detached approach is the best way to handle job stress.

“You can’t get emotionally involved, because you never know what you are driving up to,” Lisa said. “You can never really prepare yourself for what you will encounter.”