Emergencies in west Liberty County should soon get quicker ambulance responses.
Walthourville is to get a new, additional station for emergency medical services after the Liberty County Hospital Authority voted to expand at the city’s request.
“They’re very much open to moving an ambulance out there… They volunteered one of the bays in the station for us,” EMS director Jim Turner said of the fire station there during the authority’s meeting last week.
The county’s second largest municipality houses three fire trucks in its fire station on Talmadge Road. But one of the bays will open next month as the city goes through some transitions.
Turner figured an ambulance there would cut response times to Riceboro and provide quick access to Airport Road toward Gum Branch.
“It’s a good location,” Turner said.
Kinks still need to be worked out in hours and hiring six more staff to cover shifts.
But authority Chairman Jon Long said he wants it done as soon as possible.
“I think the general feeling in the finance meeting was this is something good, something we need to do,” Long said. “It’s a matter of financing to fund it.”
The request came right after Turner reported a record 816 EMS calls in May and an average response time of 10 minutes.
Over the years, Liberty Regional EMS has asked for help and has helped with calls from Long, McIntosh and Bryan counties.
In other business, the authority unanimously approved spending nearly $39,000 for a new machine in the cardiopulmonary unit.
The pulmonary function test machine measures lung function and is needed in rehabilitation therapy. PFT results are often needed for other procedures, according to Tia Bacon who works in the unit.
She said the unit’s nine-year-old machine crashed last month.
And seeing almost a doubling in tests a month, Bacon wanted to get the machine up and running before patients have to be referred somewhere else.
LRMC had 698 PFTs last year and 770 already this year, she said.
“So we definitely need this other system,” Bacon said.
“A lot of big-ticket items… we look at the option of leasing, instead of purchasing,” Long said. “I don’t see the advantage or disadvantage there.”
Bacon said she preferred the hospital own the machine.
“The majority of hospitals do just go ahead and purchase their PFT machine,” Bacon said.
“And actually, they’re original price is $48,213. With our premier we were able to get some price breaks,” Bacon said, mentioning end of fiscal year discounts.
The unit can use the same supplies for the new machine. The price includes a four-year warranty and training.