CORBIN — By John L. Ross / Staff Writer
Whitley County EMS can now flex its muscles with pride. That’s thanks to a pair of brand-new emergency rescue vehicles which arrived at the station Saturday.
EMS Director Kelly Harrison said she’s pleased with the new units.
“We rolled in here with them Saturday,” she said. “We (currently) have two ambulances out of service — there’s no fixing them.”
County Projects Director Amber Owens said the two ambulances pulled out of service “had hundreds of thousands of miles on them.”
The new emergency vehicles came from Taylor Made Ambulances in Newport, Ark. Harrison said that company flew EMS crew down to Arkansas to pick them up.
“That was really nice,” Harrison said.
Now EMS staff will spend time readying the vehicles.
“Any time you buy an ambulance, there’s a lot that has to be done,” Harrison said. “You have to get it lettered, (designate) what county the ambulance gets used in, and it has to be DOT (Department of Transportation) certified.”
Until those checklist bullets are complete, Harrison said EMS crews are not allowed to use them.
“It takes about $2,500 worth of equipment to go into (each ambulance),” she said. “The state mandates what is needed.”
She explained that basic mandates must always be met, but that EMS crews can determine if more supplies are needed for the rescue vehicles.
Harrison said EMS also has a “new, used” ambulance, which they are preparing for service. This will bring Whitley County’s EMS fleet to 10. That ambulance also needs to be painted — Harrison said Whitley County EMS colors are blue and white.
She said all three ambulances will soon be ready for inspection.
“We’re pushing for all three to be inspected at the same time,” Harrison said. “But we will definitely have the two new ones on the road in about a week — probably two or three weeks for (the used one).”
Once the ambulances are road-ready, she said the new ones will be split up.
“One we’ll have at the Corbin base, the other here (at the station near the airport),” Harrison said.
Owens explained the ambulances were purchased through two different funding resources.
“The first one was purchased through Coal Severance funds,” Owens said. “The second we’ll be making payments.”
She said Coal Severance funds are budgeted by the state, and that the county can only make recommendations concerning purchasing.
“It was a line item in the state budget this year,” Owens said. “This will take care of some of their problems.”
She agreed the two ambulances that got pulled from duty needed replacing.
“Ideally, we’d like to replace some more,” Owens said.
She added there are some features in the new units not available in older models.
“These have child-safety seats in them,” Owens said. “They used to have to transport a child by borrowing the parents’ car seat, then strapping that to a gurney.”
She said the new feature will be much safer to transport children.
“Now there is a captain’s chair which folds out into a child-safety seat,” she said. “It makes it a lot easier for the paramedics when they do have to transport a child.”
County Treasurer Jeffrey Gray said each unit cost $94,316. Coal Severance monies covered $60,000 of the cost through a grant.
“It will take us three years to pay off one, and five years to pay off the other,” Gray said.