With two new ambulances, concerns were raised by the Liberty County Board of Commissioners with how many mutual aid requests were coming from Long County. The concerns were raised at the LCBOC regular meeting when Liberty EMS Director Shawn Parker gave his February 2019 data.
“In this mutual aid agreement with Long County, do we receive any type of compensation for that?” District 2 Commissioner Justin Frazier asked.
Currently Long County has one 24-hour ambulance service provided by Excelsior Ambulance Service for $308,000 per year, according to Interim Long County Administrator Chuck Scragg. Long County currently does not contract with other counties for ambulance service but does have an inter-county mutual aid agreement in cases of emergency.
According to Scragg, Excelsior has provided an additional daytime ambulance for 16 hours at no additional charge and is available to respond. The Long County Board of Commissioners were discussing the possibility of acquiring getting two ambulances through a reduction of funds in another department, reduction of funds across several departments, or an increase in the millage rate. The Long BOC did not exercise any of these options.
The Long County population continues to grow from 17,861 in 2015 to 19,014 in 2019 and EMS is currently funded out of the Long County General Fund.
"Long County needs a second full-time ambulance running; geographically our county is too big, we have too many people, and we have too many requests for medical emergencies for our citizens not to be provided this service,” District 2 Long County Commissioner Mike Riddle said. “We are not that small community with 12,000 people anymore. We are anticipating our population to be over 22,000 during the next census, whether it is this board or a board in the future, a second ambulance, and for that matter a full-time fire department is going to have to be funded. I just hope we have this second ambulance before somebody dies due to a half hour or forty-five minute response time for help.”
In Liberty County, Liberty EMS responded to over 2,100 calls since December 2018. The average response times for the calls were around seven minutes and in February there were 16 mutual aid requests. Ten of those requests came from Long County.
“We’re concerned about the mileage that is being put on our ambulances and the new ambulances we are purchasing for our county with our SPLOST,” District 3 Commissioner Connie Thrift said. “We’re seeing more calls into Long County and as a county commissioner we’re concerned about the upkeep of our ambulances and want to keep them up and running for our citizens.”
In other county business, Nirav Gandhi from the Liberty Consolidated Planning Commission presented his first rezoning request after Alan Seifert was promoted. The commissioners approved the request at the recommendation from the LCPC.
The LCBOC also signed proclamations to make April 7 – 13 National Library week and make April Autism Awareness month as well as National County Government month.
The commissioners went into executive session to discuss land acquisition where they did not take a vote.