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story.lead_photo.caption FILE -- The "Spirit of Mercy" takes off Friday, March 15, 2013, at Mercy Hospital in Rogers. (NWA MEDIA/SAMANTHA BAKER)

BENTONVILLE -- Benton County and Mercy Emergency Medical Services announced a continued collaboration to serve residents in the southeastern part of the county, according to a news release.

The contract encompasses the fire districts of the following volunteer fire departments: Beaver Lake, Rocky Branch, Piney Point, Highway 94 East, Hickory Creek and Pleasure Heights. Residents of unincorporated Lowell area are also included, according to the release.

"I'm thrilled we're continuing our partnership with Mercy," Benton County Judge Barry Moehring said. "Since the inception of this agreement in 2017, Mercy's EMS service has resulted in lower response times for Beaver Lake-area residents and lower costs for all of Benton County. That agreement has served as a model for subsequent agreements in other parts of Benton County. Overall, we have more ambulances serving more people than ever before and at a savings to taxpayers over previous service models."

The original agreement was signed January 2018 and saved Benton County $816,099, according to the release.

"Mercy is grateful for the opportunity to continue serving the needs of Benton County for EMS coverage in the area," said Bob Patterson, executive director of Emergency Medical Services for Mercy. "The ongoing collaboration with Benton County, Beaver Lake Fire Department and others has proven very successful and something we are very proud of."

The new contract will extend service through 2023.

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