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Warren County EMS faces ambulance shortage
The county is facing a pinch when it comes to ambulances.

Warren County EMS is having a vehicle emergency.

“Friday afternoon, we had a truck go down,” said EMS director Preston Denney. “The motor blew up in our 2015 Freightliner. It busted the block. We are one vehicle short and another vehicle is about to be sent for remount. This puts us stuck between a rock and hard place.”

Denney explained the difficult situation with two equally unpleasant courses of action to members of the county Safety Committee on Monday. 

“This is the roughest riding truck we have,” said Denney, of the broken Freightliner with 244,346 miles. “It’s by far my least favorite truck that we have. Most of the crew, it’s their least favorite. It’s too big and too heavy. It rides really rough. If we completely drop that truck, it puts us back at having eight. We have a ’08 GMC that’s going out for remount in two to three weeks. It’s going to be gone for 45 days.”

With the loss of the Freightliner and the ’08 GMC scheduled to be out of commission in two to three weeks, the department will be down to seven vehicles. 

Denney said the department’s fleet is aging and presented the following mileage list:

• 2003 Ford E350 with 293,084 

• 2008 GMC 4500 with 321,662 

• 2012 RAM 4500 with 264,722 

• 2014 RAM 4500 with 193,563 

• 2016 RAM 5500 with 125,353 

• 2018 RAM 4500 with 56,835 

• 2017 RAM 4500 with 81,854 

•2018 RAM 4500 with 26,098 

“The ’03 Ford is local only,” said Denney. “It can’t leave the county. The age of the vehicles is why I requested that we send two trucks to be remounted this year, instead of one.”

A remount utilizes the existing box and replaces the chassis, electrical, hardware, flooring, Heat/AC, paint and graphics, and cab customization. Remount costs approximately $120,000 but it provides the department with a relatively new truck. A remount takes several months, including the bidding process. 

Denney said the verbal estimate given to replace the motor in the disliked and high mileage Freightliner is between $13,000 and $15,000 with a timeframe of approximately two weeks, giving the department one vehicle before the departure of another.

“Like you said, this is a rock and hard place,” said Commissioner Randy England. “You have to have an ambulance. Getting this one back in a couple weeks is a better option.”

Commissioner Christy Ross agreed, “I hate throwing good money after an old truck, but it doesn’t look like we have much choice.” 

Safety Committee members unanimously approved spending up to $15,000 to repair the Freightliner.