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Second Harford-owned ambulance prepares to go into full service in early May

County Medic 2, shipped to Harford County from Florida in late 2017, has served as a backup to County Medic 1 but will be put into full-time service in early May. The purchase of another backup ambulance was approved Tuesday.
County Medic 2, shipped to Harford County from Florida in late 2017, has served as a backup to County Medic 1 but will be put into full-time service in early May. The purchase of another backup ambulance was approved Tuesday. (Courtesy Atlantic Emergency Solutions)

Harford County is preparing to add a second surge ambulance to its fleet to supplement the volunteer emergency medical service in the county.

In its first year in service, beginning Jan 21, 2018, the surge ambulance based at the Department of Emergency Services on Ady Road in Hickory, called County Medic 1, responded to more than 1,600 calls, said Cindy Mumby, a spokeswoman for Harford County government. Countywide, there were about 26,000 emergency medical service calls in the same time period.

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That many calls in a year for the surge ambulance “says there is a need,” Mumby said.

“It’s one we’ll continue to monitor and meet that need in conjunction with our volunteers.”

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A man was burned Wednesday afternoon after an RV caught fire, a spokesperson for the Harford Volunteer Fire & EMS Association said.

A second county-owned ambulance, County Medic 2, that had been serving as a backup to the first one, will be put into full-time service in early May, Mumby said.

The county allocated $315,657 for the second ambulance for six months in this year’s budget for salaries and benefits, but not all of that will be spent since the unit is not in service yet and the fiscal year ends June 30.

The Harford Board of Estimates on Tuesday approved the purchase of a third ambulance, to serve as a backup to either one, for $257,366. The 2019 Ford F550 four-wheel drive ultra medic ambulance will be bought from Atlantic Emergency Solutions Inc. of Yorktown, Virginia. The county is piggybacking on a contract with Houston-Galveston (Texas) Area Council.

Whether the third ambulance will be put into permanent service has not been determined.

“We’re just taking it slow. We will monitor the calls that come in and make a decision on whether it’s warranted,” Mumby said. “We are keeping track of the calls. We are sticking to the plan and we’ll keep working with our volunteers and [the Harford County Volunteer Fire & EMS Foundation] to supplement services to provide the best service for our citizens.”

Adding a third full-time ambulance would be based on the number of calls the first two answer and response times across the county, Mumby said.

The Harford County Fire and EMS Association supports any and all extra resources from the county to help provide EMS services, spokeswoman Jenn Chenworth said.

“Our focus is on providing EMS coverage to the citizens and visitors of Harford County, whether it is a volunteer or county EMS unit,” Chenworth said. “We welcome any additional resources that will benefit the citizens and visitors of Harford County.”

The association’s representative on the county EMS board has provided input on where the unit will best serve the volunteers, and citizens and members will continue to evaluate placement and make adjustments if needed.

County Medic 1 could be the first responding ambulance in its primary coverage area, a 3- to 4-mile radius around its home base in Hickory, Mumby said.

It could be dispatched as the second or third responding ambulance depending on the availability of other ambulances from the county’s volunteer fire companies, she said.

“All units support each other,” Mumby said. “If a unit is not available, other units come in and fill in for them.”

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A county medic could also be dispatched to an emergency if another ambulance responding only has a driver available, she said. Both county ambulances will be staffed around the clock with two paramedics who can provide higher levels of care than drivers.

“The whole objective is to get the care to the patient as quickly as possible,” Mumby said.

County Medic 2 will initially be based at the Department of Emergency Services while the county works with a standards board to identify a permanent location for it, Mumby said.

Maryland Legal Aid attorney Rashad James claims an officer in the Harford County Sheriff’s Office was racially motivated when he mistook the lawyer for a suspect, detained him in the courthouse and questioned him. Harford Sheriff Jeffrey R. Gahler has said his office is investigating.

“We’ll look for where the greatest need is,” she said.

The county is in the process of hiring the paramedic staff for the second medic unit. Hiring includes a written test, interview process then a testing process, she said. The county has finished the interview process and will be testing soon, with the goal to finish the process by the end of the first week in April.

Once the new paramedics are hired, they will undergo additional training before they hit the road, Mumby said.

Eight paramedics staff County Medic 1. Each week they work two days from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., two nights from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., then have three days off.

The staff will be moving to 24-hour shifts, followed by 72 hours off, once the second ambulance is put in service, Mumby said.

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