EMS buying new units

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By Lou Elliott Jones, Editor

The beleagured Levy County Emergency Medical Service is buying two new units for $114,695 each because the current fleet of seven vehicles is spending too much time in the shop with high-milage on them.

The purchase, from Wheeled Coach of Winter Park, was approved by the commission during its regular meeting on Tuesday at the County Courthouse. The money is in the department's budget for the year.

EMS director Trish Seibold said the county considered piggybacking onto a contract that Volusia County's emergency services provider has with Wheeled Coach, but in order to get the same pricing, the unit would not have come with the same configuration the Levy units require, and a minimum of three units are required.

Paramedic Scott Coker said, “The EVAC (of Volusia County)  units don't hold the cabinetry that we have to have because of the rural nature of our work.” Coker said the Volusia units can replenish their supplies at the local hospitals, whereas the Levy units must get their supplies at the EMS stations.

    Coker also said the Levy units require refrigeration units on board to keep drugs cool and prevent deterioration.

    The paramedic said the units will also be better built trucks because the company builds its units on Ford F-450 heavy duty trucks. He also said the prices for the units were lower than the bids by Ten-8 and Excellance, Inc., because Wheeled Coach had bought a large number of F-450s while prices were down.

    Seibold and Coker also noted that when an EMS unit needs major servicing, the unit must be taken to Bradenton for repairs, which is a minimum 4-hour drive.

    “We're having some major electrical issues,” Coker said of the old units. “We had a couple nearly caught fire due to poor wiring.”

    “This unit can be serviced by Alachua Fire & Rescue,” Coker said of the Wheeled Coach units. He said the Alachua and Marion County rescue and medical services use the Wheeled Coach units.

    In other business, the county commission also approved a resolution by a 4-1 vote, with Commissioner Marscha Drew, of Yankeetown, dissenting, to protest the federal Environmental Protection Agency's setting of nitrate levels for the state of Florida.

    The issue revolves around a 10-year federal court case in which the EPA and the state Department of Environmental Protection squared off over the state's quest to set nitrate emission levels to meet the federal Clean Water Act standards.

    Commissioner Chad Johnson, of Chiefland, proposed the resolution saying it recognizes the state and local government's rights to set the nitrate levels for water. He said the decision should be based on science and set at the local level.

    Jack Scofield, of Yankeetown, said the case came about because the state DEP did not set the levels.

    Dan Hilliard, the Withlacoochee Area Residents Inc., said where the DEP is concerned, “the resources they have available are not at hand.” thus making it impossible to have science-based decisions.

    “If the DEP is not meeting the standards of the Clean Water Act, then the EPA is forced to step in,” he said. “If DEP was doing it's job, EPA wouldn't be involved in this.”

    Brack Barker said the better thing for the commission to do was to pass an ordinance regulating fertilizer usage in the county.