YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Services with Youngstown’s new ambulance provider began on New Year’s Eve. Monday, WKBN spoke to the company’s CEO about the transition in coverage.

The head of EMT Ambulance admits that starting new services in a community often takes months to piece together, but they didn’t have that kind of time.

“Public was counting on us, so we had, we had basically two weeks and a day,” said Ken Joseph, CEO of Emergency Medical Transport.

That was when Youngstown City Council voted to bring in the North Canton-based Emergency Medical Transport to take the place of AMR Ambulance, whose contract expired on New Year’s Day.

Within days, the new company purchased AMR’s old facility on the South Side and leased a second location near Mercy Health’s Main Campus.

“AMR helped transition the employees that wanted to stay, which was, I would have to say, almost 90 percent, to stay with us,” Joseph said.

EMT already serves Warren, Salem and Alliance. Joseph said the timing of the $4 million, three-year contract was nearly perfect.

“We happened to be fortunate enough to have just taken delivery of six brand-new ambulances about a month and a half ago,” he said.

EMT’s contract with the city will be to provide and staff at least four ambulances throughout the city, 24 hours a day and seven days a week. The company will also be looking to adjust that and increase it as the need arises.

During their negotiations with city leaders, executives with AMR repeatedly claimed they needed more money to offset cuts in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements that made it difficult to hire and retain workers. Joseph said that problem isn’t going away.

“There isn’t a shortage of people; there’s a shortage of trained professionals that are willing to put themselves out there for low pay,” he said.

Joseph said federal lawmakers will need to step in to resolve what has become a nationwide problem.