Graham County has thrown a curve ball in an ongoing debate with Swain County over ambulance service in Deal’s Gap, a motorcycle mecca that sees a disproportionately large share of wrecks.
Deal’s Gap is an outlying area of Swain County, so far-flung that it takes an ambulance 45 minutes to reach it from Swain County. The area is much closer to Graham, which has historically provided emergency services to the area as a courtesy.
Graham and Swain are at a stalemate in negotiations over whether Graham should be compensated for providing the service within Swain’s borders. Swain thus far has refused to ante up, claiming it already provides a quid pro quo by transporting Graham residents who end up in the Swain County Hospital.
In a surprise move on Tuesday, Graham informed Swain that it would not answer emergency calls to Deal’s Gap over Labor Day weekend. Graham will have its hands full responding to calls within its own borders, they said.
Swain County Manager Kevin King said the news came as a surprise, since the two counties were still in talks and Graham previously said it would give Swain time to make arrangements to cover the area if they couldn’t come to another resolution.
King said Swain County generally has two ambulances in service at any given time. A third ambulance that usually serves as back-up will be posted in the Deal’s Gap area for the Labor Day weekend.
King said Swain will also be willing to help out Graham if they are stretched too thin.
“If they need our help, we will be right there,” King said.
Swain will continue transporting Graham residents receiving treatment at Swain’s hospital.
“We are not going to play that game with them,” King said.