BLUEFIELD (WVVA) -- When Bluefield Regional Medical Center closes its doors in just over a month, the Bluefield Rescue Squad will have to transport its patients to Princeton Community Hospital - nearly 13 miles away.
"It's gonna add probably 20 to 30 minutes, roughly, on our transport time," said Sean Cantrell, Chief of Operations at the Rescue Squad.
That timeframe poses serious concerns to Bluefield residents - who question what will happen in a traumatic situation.
Angelica Harrison normally takes the Bluefield Area Transit to her doctors' appointments at BRMC. She says the she can't afford the extra fare to travel to PCH, but is more concerned about what will happen to her if she gets severely injured or sick.
"If we have [to wait] an extra 30 minutes, we're not gonna survive," she said.
"If you have a medical condition, like a heart condition, that time is really important," added Bramwell resident Ronnie Goins. "If you have to wait another hour, hour and a half to get the unit somewhere - you may not get that hour and a half."
The Bramwell area has also seen several ATV accidents this year.
"That's our main concern," Cantrell said.
However, if the patient is severe enough, there is the option for life-flight, he adds.
"That might be their best option at this point," he explained. "Every minute counts, especially when you're talking about trauma. Depending on the severity of the patient, even 5 minutes could do it."
In a statement Thursday, Princeton Community Hospital CEO Jeffrey Lilley told WVVA:
"It is our intention to keep the ER open as a free-standing Emergency Department. However, this requires regulatory steps and approval. We are still working through that process."
Stay with WVVA for further developments.