Greg and Wendy Johnson, owners of Life Care Ambulance Service in Cave City, notified Sharp County Judge Joe Stidman May 15 that the service will cease operation Nov. 15.
Greg Johnson said they are closing the business they have owned for 15 years because of family reasons. He said he and his wife seriously discussed closing for about a month before giving notice.
"It's just the strain," he said. "It's a 24-hour a day, seven-day a week job."
The Johnsons say they are married to their job. Not only do they operate their business and work in the business as paramedics but they also live at the station site. They have transformed part of their home into the ambulance office.
The couple has three children, Derek, 19, Brock, 15, and Faryn, 7. Derek just finished his first year at the University of Arkansas. He plans to major in architecture.
"When we first started this business our oldest son was 3," Greg Johnson said. "The other two were born into the business. Pagers have been going off at all hours of the night from the time they were born."
Life Care has six full-time employees and approximately 15 part-time employees, Johnson said. They have three ambulances that serve the area. The couple informed their employees of the closure before they gave notice.
"They were surprised, to say the least," he said. "They were supportive of us. Most of them have been here 10 years. We appreciate all of them. They've really shown dedication and loyalty to make sure southern Sharp County received top-notch ambulance service."
The South Sharp County Ambulance Board will determine who will assume service in the area, Johnson said, adding that the couple will recommend Spring River Paramedic Ambulance Service.
Life Care serves the southern portion of the county to Taylor Road on Highway 167 in the Gentryville community, 4.9 miles south of the caution light in Ash Flat. Spring River serves the remainder of the county.
"We're looking at the feasibility of us assuming that area," said Grace Richeson, general manager of Spring River Ambulance. "Nothing is definite, but that is the general direction we're heading at this point. There is a lot yet to be decided."
Spring River Ambulance currently operates two ambulance stations in Sharp County ---- one in Cherokee Village and one in Ozark Acres.
"If we were to do that the residents up here would not see a decrease in service. We want to emphasize that," Richeson said, adding that the service would simply add another truck and another crew in Cave City.
After the closure the couple plans to stay in the emergency medical service business part time, Greg Johnson said. They also hope to begin their own laser cutting and engraving business.
"We think it's time to move on," he said. "We're excited about it."