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Northampton adds to EMS fleet

JACKSON — A new ambulance added to the fleet of Northampton County EMS will help to provide service in the Lake Gaston area.

Last week, the Northampton County Board of Commissioners agreed to move forward on a lease purchase of a $121,000 ambulance.

According to information provided by Northampton County EMS Director Charles Joyner, in order to provide service to the Lake Gaston area and to continue to have an adequate amount of reserve ambulances, Northampton County Ambulance Service would need to purchase an additional ambulance.

The county currently has four ambulances, two are reserve vehicles. Joyner said with the addition of the new ambulance, three would be in operation.

Joyner said he contacted Northwestern Emergency Vehicles which has a 2010 Chevrolet G4500 demo ambulance for $121,000. He also contacted Southeastern Specialty Vehicles who also has the same kind of ambulance for $113,000. Joyner recommended approving the purchase of the Northwestern vehicle.

“The vehicle from Northwestern Emergency Vehicles, in my opinion, even though it’s about $8,000 more I think the extra money is well spent,” he said. “Number one, the vehicle Southeastern has is an older chassis and an older engine.”

Meanwhile, Joyner said even though both vehicles are 2010, the Northwestern ambulance has the latest engine available from GM, which adds $4,500.

“The one from Northwestern also has a hydraulic oxygen lift,” he said. “Basically, what that does is lifts the oxygen tanks in and out of the vehicle.”

Joyner said those tanks must be regularly changed out and each tank weighs approximately 100 pounds.

With the ambulance being procured with a lease purchase, County Manager Wayne Jenkins said the first payment would not have to be paid until one year from the date the lease was executed and the amount could be figured into next year’s budget.

Commission Chair Fannie Greene asked about the vehicles being demos.

Joyner said they were vehicles that were taken out and shown to potential buyers. He added the only difference between them and a non-demo is that these vehicles were on the lot and ready to go.

Greene asked if a demo would have miles on it.

Joyner said typically they have a couple of hundred, but not thousands of miles.

Commissioner Robert Carter said that though the purchase of the vehicle was to benefit citizens, he questioned the county purchasing, as of late, several vehicles.

He added he had a citizen ask him how many vehicles the county owned.

“And I couldn’t tell him how many vehicles we had in our fleet,” he said.

Carter said he would like the county in the future to start thinking about getting a fleet of vehicles for every department to use when they needed them.

Jenkins said in 1999 when he was director of the Public Works Department he did exactly what Carter suggested and compared buying a fleet of vehicles and paying employee mileage. Jenkins said there was substantial savings with owning a fleet of vehicles. 

“Also there was some up front capital that was required by the county as well and at that time the county manager to the board felt in the best interest of business to continue paying mileage,” he said.

Jenkins said that study had already been completed and could be updated at the commissioners’ pleasure.

Commission Vice Chair James Hester moved to approve the measure and Carter offered a second. The motion passed without objection.