Emergency Service Director Pam Tucker says ambulance would help in high-growth area.
Columbia County officials plan to add a sixth ambulance to the Furys Ferry Road area, hoping to reduce response times and improve service to one of the county's fastest growing areas.
Initially, officials hoped to add the ambulance later this year, after extending a contract with provider Gold Cross. But Commission Vice-Chairman Tom Mercer said there was no reason to wait if the ambulance is needed.
"If we need one over there now," he said, "we need to get the money from somewhere now."
Commissioners will vote on adding the sixth ambulance - possibly at the Martinez Fire Department station at Furys Ferry and Evans-to-Locks roads - at their meeting Tuesday night in Evans. They'll also be voting to extend the contract with Gold Cross through June 2005.
If the ambulance is in place by March 10, it'll cost the county $30,688 for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends in July. Then it'll be $100,000 for the next fiscal year - taking Gold Cross' total contract to $500,000.
That's about the same price the county was paying for ambulance service before contracting with Gold Cross two years ago, Emergency Services Director Pam Tucker said.
Gold Cross President Tom Schneider said the service receives more than 1,200 calls a year in the Furys Ferry, Stevens Creek and Evans-to-Locks roads area. Those numbers don't surprise Tucker.
"The contract with Gold Cross was signed two years ago and there really has been a lot of development in that area," she said.
The growth has led to congestion in the area, which has contributed to some increased response times. Plus, a rail line separates the area from the main ambulance station on Belair Road, potentially blocking ambulance access at points.
Another thing increasing response times in the Stevens Creek Road area are speed humps and speed bumps in various neighborhoods. Tucker said emergency vehicles have to slow down for the speed control devices.
"You are talking about life and death issues here," she said.
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