The new Board of Carroll County Commissioners held its first public meeting Thursday, and with it came a $1.27 million purchase approval for four ambulances to be used by the county’s new Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services.
The purchase, from FESCO Emergency Sales in Elkridge, was requested by Reed Oliver, bureau chief of the county’s Department of Fleet Management and Warehouse Operations, and Michael Robinson Sr., director and chief of the county’s Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services.
Oliver and Robinson explained to commissioners that though the vehicles would be ordered now, the county will not receive them for up to two years, due to manufacturing delays brought about by the pandemic.
“Obviously there’s supply chain issues everywhere, but certainly in the emergency services vehicle area,” Robinson said.
The chief said these ambulances would be the start of a new, completely county-owned fleet for the department. The new fire/EMS department is meant to bring together Carroll’s community fire companies under a county-administered department with paid staff.
The county’s plan will allow for 15 medic units to provide 24-hour staffing seven days a week and at least one fire apparatus driver at all but the Harney Volunteer Fire Company in Taneytown, which will receive no new staffing, as it has no ambulances and a low call volume.
“We will be replacing the volunteer ambulances to allow consistency with all the units in the county, which is advantageous for maintenance and all the other things that come with that,” Robinson said.
Ordering the vehicles now allows the county to realize significant cost savings, Robinson said. The manufacturer implemented a 7% price increase for ambulances as of Dec. 1, but the county sent a letter of intent to purchase to lock in the lower price before that time, he said.
The county will save about $26,000 per ambulance, or $104,000 total.
District 1 Commissioner Joe Vigliotti asked county staff if it would be advantageous to purchase more ambulances now in order to take advantage of the cost savings. Staff replied that the county had originally intended to purchase two but was able to purchase four due to the cost savings.
Robinson said there are 22 ambulances now in the fleet, and that number would be reduced to 19, which includes several reserve ambulances that can be used when primary vehicles are out for maintenance.
District 4 Commissioner Michael R. Guerin asked where the four new ambulances would be used, once they arrive. Robinson said that would be determined later, adding that his plans are to staff the Westminster, Sykesville, and Taneytown departments by June 1, followed by the Manchester, Reese, and Mount Airy departments after July 1.
Staff is now analyzing vehicle needs for each department and determining mileage on current vehicles, he added. He said one of the new vehicles would likely be used to replace one of the current reserve ambulances and another new vehicle would likely go to the Westminster department.
The typical life cycle of a county ambulance is about five to seven years, Robinson said. It varies because the county has both rural and urban areas, which affect ambulance usage differently.