Ambulance service led by Panola native

Published 12:57 pm Friday, June 30, 2017

Ambulance service led by Panola native

Lifeguard EMS Panola Operations Manager Casey Austin opened the doors Wednesday to one of four brand new ambulances for inspection by members of the Batesville Exchange Club, including (from right) Gene Wallace, Jimmy Dickerson and Jimmy Smith. — Panolian photo by John Howell

By John Howell
Lifeguard Emergency Medical Services new Panola County Operations Manager is a native whose career in emergency medicine began here and has now brought him full circle to return.
Casey Austin introduced himself and one of Lifeguard’s four new ambulances Wednesday at the Batesville Exchange Club. Lifeguard Emergency Medical Services took over Panola County’s emergency ambulance service yesterday.
Four new ambulances — three stationed at the Batesville headquarters at 543 Highway 6 West and one in Sardis at the Panola Emergency Management Agency building — are available for Panola County calls. They come with “more advanced equipment,” than local ambulances have previously been equipped with, including a ventilator that frees the paramedic from manually ventilating the patient and allow the paramedic to render other treatment.
In addition, Lifeguard has “two spares fully stocked and ready to go,” Austin said. “We could have up to six ambulances running in the county at one time.”
Austin will travel in a “quick response vehicle” — a sports utility vehicle but also stocked with all the equipment carried by the ambulances. “I can respond,” he said, and help to stabilize a patient until he or she can be transported by an ambulance.
Austin’s supervisory vehicle is also equipped with an automatic CPR device. “If I’m by myself, I can go ahead and focus on other treatment,” he said, after implementing the automated CPR.
Lifeguard began in New Orleans in the early 1990s and quickly spread to Mobile, Alabama and Florida, according to Austin. It has also expanded to Nashville and to Oklahoma. “We’re also a small, hometown company,” he added, with its operations supervisor living in the county it serves.
Lifeguard will be dispatched directly by Panola County Emergency Dispatching, according to the operations supervisor, whose personnel are familiar with the roads and locations where an ambulance is needed.
“Those few minutes count,” Austin said. “That’s an improvement.”
“These people are going to be coming to my family just like they’re going to your family,” he added.
Austin’s family includes his wife, Katherine and their 15-month-old daughter, Ellie Grace. They make their home on Whitten Road, not far from where Austin grew up at Tocowa. His parents are Mark and Vickie Austin.
Austin began as a paramedic in Panola County, then worked for the ambulance service at Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi in Oxford before becoming a flight paramedic for Air Evac Lifeteam.
“Air Evac is a sister company to Lifeguard,” he said.
Austin was stationed with Air Evac in Greenville before returning to Panola County to become Lifeguard’s Panola Operations Manager. As a flight paramedic, Austin earned additional certifications for critical medical training including care for pediatric and neo-natal patients. He has also served with the Pope Volunteer Fire Dept. since 2009, most recently as assistant chief.

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