New Bertie ambulances arrive

Published 10:18 am Tuesday, April 11, 2017

WINDSOR – The nearly nine month effort by Bertie County to upgrade its Emergency Services 911 fleet finally rolled out here on Tuesday.

Back in the spring of 2016, Bertie Emergency Services Director Mitch Cooper informed the County Commissioners regarding replacing some of the older ambulance units in the Bertie EMS fleet.

After some discussion that carried over to August and the new fiscal year, Bertie County began a discussion about working towards replacing old ambulances in the 911 fleet that had become cost prohibitive.

“We have been using ambulance vehicles that were purchased during the First Med bankruptcy, and used units purchased from various dealers,” said Bertie County Manager Scott Sauer at the time. “These units have gotten us through our initial startup, but are becoming more and more costly for the county to repair. We are also experiencing frequent breakdowns with these vehicles and are in desperate need of more reliable 911 ambulances.”

A public hearing was held in Aulander prior to the application’s submission.  Afterward, Sauer, along with Cooper – and under the watchful budget eye of County Finance Director William Roberson – then applied in August 2016 for financing through USDA Rural Development and secured a loan amount of $788,000 to use to purchase four new emergency vehicles.  That amount was a 15-year term at 2.75% to cover costs for the cab and chassis, rear medical unit and all equipment (stretchers, heart monitors), lights, siren and radios.

“Our (older) vehicles see extreme wear and tear due to unforeseen conditions during the time of a 911 emergency,” Sauer added. “The (new) vehicles have specifications to provide not only the highest level of safety, but these “work horses” must be able to provide comfort and durability for the staff to provide urgent and appropriate care for our county emergency service calls.”

Meanwhile, back in January, after requests for proposals (RFP’s) went out, three were submitted before the county settled on Select Custom Apparatus based in the Pitt County town of Falkland.  SCA agreed to provide the service vehicles at a cost of $138,549 each, which was well within the budget range.

“Purchasing these units and equipment will allow us to continue the necessary steps to provide our citizens state of the art treatment and transport,” Cooper revealed. “This would also provide our Emergency Medical Services employees with the safest and most effective equipment to administer the highest level of care during high stress situations.”

Delivery day finally came this past Tuesday, April 4, when the county took ownershipof the quartet of spanking brand-new machines.

The county was so proud of the new vehicles that they were placed on display in downtown Windsor on King Street in front of the Bertie County Courthouse.

“These will support Paramedic Emergency Medical Services, continuing our EMS effort to ensure response readiness for the highest level of pre-hospital medical for all citizens of Bertie County on a 24 hour, seven day per week basis,” said Sauer.

Plans are for the ambulances to be based at Bertie County’s current EMS squad locations in Aulander, Colerain and Windsor.

Following EMS Station-1’s flooding during Tropical Storm Julia and Hurricane Matthew back in September and October, the units that have been designated for Windsor will be temporarily based at the Bertie Early College High School campus on Governor’s Road.