With a simple motto of “Getting people where they need to go,” Washington resident Barbara House recently launched Around-N-About Transportation LLC, located at 300 E. Fifth St., Washington.
The company, which is located in the former Wendell’s Service Station building, has a fleet of four 2011-12 Ford Escape SUVs, as well as a van equipped to carry a stretcher and another van that can transport up to two wheelchairs.
Vehicles are being purchased locally through Chris Auffenberg, House noted.
Each is equipped with a blood borne pathogen kit, a first aid kit, emergency triangle for warning if there is a breakdown, a fire extinguisher, umbrellas, ice scrapers and flashlights.
House said that in listening to the people of Washington, she found that they wanted some kind of transportation service.
Helping with the operation of the company is Lisa Johnston, operations manager.
The two are working with the Washington Area Ambulance District to transport patients who do not need life support, typically from the hospital back to their home on a stretcher, wheelchair or in a car.
House noted that all drivers are CPR and first aid certified and required to take a class with the ambulance district. The company currently has nine drivers.
Originally from Washington, House moved south after graduating from Washington High School to Shreveport, La., where she has a real estate business that focuses primarily on those living in poverty. She also visited hospitals with her Westie, a therapy dog, who has since passed away.
“I have a passion to take care of people and I think this (new company) fills a need,” said House.
She moved back here in 2000 to care for her aging parents, until they passed away. Now, she is legal guardian of her sister, who is mentally handicapped.
She also cared for her husband Jim after he became disabled in a vehicle accident until he passed away. When she needed transportation for her husband, she was forced to rent a vehicle from a nearby dealership in Louisiana.
She also noted that her mother didn’t drive and often felt “trapped” by not being able to go out when she wanted.
“We want to meet the needs of the community, to take people where they want to go when they want to go,” she said, adding that often seniors and disabled and mentally challenged individuals have to wait until someone else can take them to appointments, church, shopping or wherever they would like to go.
Office hours are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but cars are available 24 hours per day, seven days per week.
Although the service is aimed at individuals, drivers can take up to three people at a time. The service will go anywhere in Franklin County, as well as transport people to the airport or appointments in St. Louis.
There is a charge to pick up and by mileage.
Around-N-About Transportation is working with JobOps, a local service that helps disabled people work outside of their home, and is working to contract with LogistiCare. The company also is working to become an approved transportation service with the Department of Mental Health and being able to bill Medicaid directly, but doesn’t have that aspect of the business in place yet.
House said growing up in Washington in the 1960s, she would ride Tom’s Cab and Hank’s City Bus, and often wondered what people would do when those businesses closed.
Since then, people have found other ways of transportation, but often are forced to go when it’s convenient for someone else to take them.
“We’re giving (people) an opportunity for freedom,” she said.
For transportation services, including to schedule a ride, people may call 636-239-1352. The company can be reached by email at email@example.com