11:20 AM. To The Citizens Of The 130 Square Miles Serviced By Cottonwood RescueRickey Stokes
Posted by: RStokes
Date: Feb 04 2024 12:16 PM
COTTONWOOD - MADRID - HOUSTON COUNTY: Last week Houston County Commission Chairman Brandon Shoupe and WTVY Ken Curtis announced Cottonwood Rescue was closing amid financial allegations.
Since January 31, 2024 through current Cottonwood Rescue has responded to at least 20 calls dispatched by Houston County 911. And Cottonwood Rescue has had an ambulance and crew respond to each and every one of them, unless Cottonwood Rescue was on a call when dispatched. Then backup ambulance from Rehobeth - Ashford or Pilchers was dispatched. A standard operating procedure.
But I do not think backup has had to be called on any of the 20 plus calls dispatched by Houston County 911.
In fact as this article is written Cottonwood Rescue is on a medical emergency call.
Penny Quattlebaum put more than 100% of herself into Cottonwood Rescue. She and others made sure the 130 square miles serviced by Cottonwood Rescue had EMS service. After 25 years Penny retired. Penny operated Cottonwood Rescue without any assistance other than $ 22,000 or so Houston County Commission funded Cottonwood. In 2017 ( could have been 2018 but think 2017 ) Penny closed Cottonwood Rescue. No one else would take the reigns.
When Penny Quattlebaum retired from Cottonwood Rescue and closed it, Rickey Stokes took over Cottonwood Rescue. With some 902 EMS calls a year, Rickey Stokes felt the citizens deserved EMS service, locally.
When Stokes took over Cottonwood Rescue there was no money to operate other than the $ 22,000.00 given by Houston County Commission. This funding was given in quarterly installments.
With the help of some dedicated people willing to help, Cottonwood Rescue began operating. Stokes is not a EMT or medic. Stokes did get certified to drive a ambulance and spent shifts driving the ambulance for free.
According to the Assistant Houston County Engineer the response area for Cottonwood Rescue is about 130 square miles. It runs from Highway 231 south on the east side and continues east to the Alabama - Florida borders east of the Lucy Community. Of the 130 square miles of Cottonwood response area, only 5.8 square miles are in the City of Cottonwood and only 1.75 square miles are in the City of Madrid. So less than 10 square miles of the 130 square miles rest in an incorporated municipality. The remaining response areas of 120 square miles rest in the county and not in an incorporated municipality.
Cottonwood Rescue is not a part of the City of Cottonwood government. The only services they provide is water to the Cottonwood Rescue building and cut the grass.
Cottonwood Rescue is separate from Cottonwood Fire, which is under the command of Fire Chief Randy Hall. The Cottonwood Fire Department is under the City of Cottonwood government.
From 2017 through some of 2021 the funding to operate Cottonwood Rescue came from the $ 22,000.00 from Houston County Commission in quarterly installments, from runs made, and from Rickey Stokes business. There was no one else to turn to so the bail bonding and www.rickeystokesnews.com paid for contract labor, fuel, supplies and what was needed to operate Cottonwood Rescue.
Now Rickey Stokes lives in the response area of Pilcher Ambulance. While Stokes daughter, son in law and grandson lived in Cottonwood, it would have been much less expensive for Stokes to move them to Dothan. But Rickey Stokes has a passion for emergency services and that people deserve emergency services when they dial 911.
When Rickey Stokes took over Cottonwood Rescue, I honestly did not feel that it would be as difficult financially as it is. You respond to a lift assist - no one to bill. You respond to a motor vehicle accident and no one injured or request to be transported by ambulance - no one to bill. You respond to a structure fire and no one injured but you sit there for three hours while fireman fight the fire - no one to bill. You respond to a call and the person is deceased - no one to bill but you have to drive to Southeast Health or Flowers Hospital to get the physician to sign the orders that you did not do CPR. And the person could have been dead for two days. No one to bill.
When EMS responds to a medical call, you can not refuse service because the person has no health insurance. And this is more common then the average person realizes.
FIVE DOLLAR TAG FEE
After getting into the EMS, and while with EMA, Rickey Stokes and Chris Judah worked to solve issues. And the two talked about the $ 5.00 tag fee idea which Dale County had done.
Stokes started the conversation with Dothan City Manager Kevin Cowper and Dothan Fire Chief Larry Williams. Without their support, the issue would not pass. From there Stokes and Judah began discussing with the Houston County Commission, the local legislative delegation and others. Local legislation was drafted by the local legislative delegation. And through the efforts of many in EMS and emergency services, you the citizens passed the $ 5.00 fee by 70% of the registered voters voting in favor.
This was a boost but EMS knew it was not a solve all. The Houston County Commission under true leaders like Mark Culver and Doug Sinquefield increased the county EMS funding to $ 27,000.00 These two men were leaders in believing people’s lives mattered.
When Brandon Shoupe took over as Houston County Commission Chairman that funding was cut by about $ 7,000.00. Never was EMS consulted or notified. And to this day Brandon Shoupe has never asked Rickey Stokes anything about Cottonwood Rescue.
ALLEGATIONS OF BRANDON SHOUPE AND KEN CURTIS
First as this article began, since Shoupe and Curtis said Cottonwood Rescue was closing, at least 20 EMS calls have been answered by Cottonwood Rescue.
In 2021 Rickey Stokes met with then EMA Director Chris Judah, then Houston County Commission Chairman Mark Culver, Dothan Fire Chief Larry Williams and Pilcher Ambulance Joey Pilcher. The purpose of the meeting was now that there was some funding, I, Rickey Stokes wanted out of Cottonwood Rescue.
However no one in place to take over and it has not worked out. There has been discussions before but it would leave no ambulance “in” Cottonwood but would have ones near to handle the territory.
After individual discussions but no group discussion with Rehobeth, Ashford and Pilcher’s, there was a group meeting in person. And others with 911 were present. Anytime Rickey Stokes has been asked when he wanted out, the response has been “yesterday”.
But at no time has Rickey Stokes had plans to abandon the people of the 130 square miles that Cottonwood Rescue serves. Discussions have been how to handle it without Cottonwood Rescue, but never any plan to abandon without the entire 130 square miles being handled.
So when Brandon Shoupe, again who has never discussed Cottonwood Rescue with Rickey Stokes, and Ken Curtis who has reported fake news on Stokes before, said Cottonwood Rescue was closing, that was fake news. And the financial impropriety is a lie.
Yes the Alabama Board of Public Examiners are auditing Cottonwood Rescue. I welcome it and have no reservations about it. They need to look at 2017 through 2021 to understand how Cottonwood Rescue was funded. And it was not because of Brandon Shoupe.
RICKEY STOKES CARES ABOUT LIFE AND EMERGENCIES
Anyone that knows Rickey Stokes knows his passion for emergency services. And since age 16 that has been a priority in my life. Not as an occupation to get a retirement like that of Brandon Shoupe and the county commissioners. But as a individual who has a desire to work and help make the system better.
A belief that when someone dials 911 they get immediate qualified service.
Even so that Rickey Stokes, after 3 failed attempts to fix a problem, went off on those in charge. And it was not very nice. That led D3 Commissioner Ricky Herring to call the pastor of Memphis Baptist Church, Rev. Jim Tate. Both Stokes and Herring attended Memphis Baptist Church where Stokes attended for 36 plus/minus years and operated the sound system. The Pastor called Stokes.
People have called the Pastor on Stokes before. While I love Jim Tate, I do not go to church to worship the Pastor. And Stokes does not tell the pastor what to preach on Sunday and the pastor does not tell Stokes what to write on Monday. So I have no idea why D3 Commissioner Ricky Herring thought he needed to call the pastor. Now my language was bad, but the issue got resolved and was one that three times of being nice did not fix. And it was an issue that could mean the difference in life or death.
Herring’s call to the Pastor and to me is what caused me to make the decision to leave Memphis Baptist Church. And I miss the church and so does my grandson.
But that is how strong I feel about emergency services.
I, Rickey Stokes, is responsible for the operation of Cottonwood Rescue. Houston County Commission Chairman Brandon Shoupe is doing all he can, with the help of Ken Curtis, to discredit Stokes. And there is no secret that I think this is the worse group of County Commissioners and Chairman ever seen in this county. Several weeks ago Stokes gave them a grade of F.
So I really do not care the opinions of the county commission chairman or Ken Curtis. Shoupe has never helped in emergency services. In fact there was a law passed by the lobby group of the county commissioners that they are not responsible for EMS in the county.
Well, sorry. I think they are and life is far more important to me not to help with solving some issues. RICKEY STOKES CARES ABOUT YOUR LIFE. The Houston County Commission lobby group passed laws so that they did not have to fund. Yet each county commissioner draws a salary to be a county commissioner with a 10 year vested retirement. Rickey Stokes makes ZERO four his work in EMS or 911.
A lot written for me to say, to the people in the 130 square miles of serviced by Cottonwood Rescue, I have blacked out of getting out of Cottonwood Rescue under the cloud painted by Chairman Shoupe and Ken Curtis. And you will have qualified and responsive EMS service.
Although I do want out of the EMS, I am committed to you.