Columbia County emergency leaders discussed relocating the ambulances stationed in Grovetown and Harlem at a Dec. 7 meeting.
The pros and cons of moving the two ambulances to unincorporated areas of the county near the city limits arose at last month's Fire and EMS Advisory Board meeting.
"We only have five ambulances," said Pam Tucker, the director of emergency services for Columbia County. "We've got to put them in the places where we are going to get the absolute best coverage from those five."
The proposed relocation, which has not been presented to the county commission, involves moving the ambulance currently stationed in Grovetown near Grovetown Senior Center to the newly constructed Martinez-Columbia Fire Rescue station on Sugar Creek Drive, off Lewiston Road at Interstate 20.
"It puts us in a little better perspective of coverage of the area that we feel that the population is booming out that way," said Vince Brodgon, Gold Cross Columbia County operations manager. It puts an ambulance closer to areas such as Chamblin Road and William Few Parkway. "Plus, at Sugar Creek, we have access right on I-20, so we can get to any of the wrecks in that area on I-20 a little bit quicker ... It brings us closer to the area with a higher call volume."
Also, the ambulance stationed in Harlem at the city's water treatment plant on Appling-Harlem Highway could be moved to the new Martinez-Columbia fire station on Old Louisville Road. The move would take ambulance crew out of a dilapidated trailer and into better, safer quarters at the fire station and take the ambulance and its crew out of the way of a potential hazard.
"Your first-line ambulance is sitting right next to the chlorine (at the water treatment plant)," Brogdon said. "If they ever have some kind of accident, your first-line ambulance, you are not going to be able to use it because it's been exposed."
If the move occurs, both ambulances will be within two or three minutes of Grovetown and Harlem, but will be closer to other unincorporated areas of the county that have been growing in population and call volume, Brogdon said.
Tucker said the proposed ambulance relocations would allow better coordination between ambulance crews and firefighters, who also serve as first responders.
Tucker said the move will reduce wear and tear on fire trucks and keep the ambulances out of the elements.
"This has been mentioned before way back as part of this whole big master plan, but until the fire stations were completed and the firefighters actually moved in them, this was kind of put on hold," Tucker said. "Now they have moved in.
"So this is kind of the next logical step, to get them housed together, so these ambulances can get inside good quarters and we can strategically place them in more appropriate geographical areas that are going to make more sense as far as covering numbers of population."
Tucker said she plans to meet with Harlem and Grovetown mayors soon. The move then will be presented to the county commission.
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