CONYERS — The Rockdale County Board of Commissioners is expected to approve the purchase of two 2022 Ford E-350 XLT Type 3 ambulances for use by the Rockdale County Fire Department at a cost of $261,192. The ambulances will be used to back up National EMS, which contracts with the county to provide ambulance service.
At the BOC work session on Sept. 21, Post 2 Commissioner Dr. Doreen Williams asked to be brought up to speed on the purchase, stating that the county does not own ambulances and has contracted the ambulance service out to National EMS.
BOC Chair Oz Nesbitt Sr. replied that one of the things Marian McDaniel implemented when she became Rockdale County fire chief in December was to try to find a way to help support National EMS.
“Because National services Rockdale, Walton and Newton, a lot of times when dispatchers are putting out a call for service, a lot of those ambulances are tied up,” Nesbitt said. “If you have an accident in the middle of the road, instead of us having to wait such a delayed time to give service and care to a patient in the middle of the road, we can send one of our vehicles to simply transport the person. A good number of our firefighters are paramedics. So it is really about saving lives.
“These (county ambulances) will not be the primary,” he continued. “National EMS will still be the primary ambulance provider here in Rockdale County, but I think it is smart on our part, particularly with what we’ve experienced throughout COVID, to have that back up.”
McDaniel agreed that this is something new for Rockdale County, but she added that it is a way for the Fire Department to enhance its service delivery.
“We do contract with National EMS, and we’re not trying to replace National,” she said. “The whole goal is to enhance our service delivery. Often times nationwide when you dial 911, the Fire Department arrives first. We have increased our service delivery to include IV’s, administering medicines for asthma, cardiac arrest, and stroke. So now, having these medical first responder units with transport capabilities, in the event we are on call with a heart attack and National has an extended time or they’re busy, and mutual aid is not available, then we will have the ability to transport.”
Post 1 Commissioner Sherri Washington recalled at least two occasions last year when an extra ambulance was needed.
“One, I was at the gym when a lady had a heart attack, and there was an incident where someone had a heart attack in my subdivision. The Fire Department got there first in both instances. The lady that had the heart attack at the gym had to wait to get to the hospital because they didn’t have an ambulance available, but the Fire Department was there.
“The gentleman who had the heart attack in my neighborhood, there were fire trucks lined up and down my street. Once again, that person had to wait. The firefighters did what they could, but they couldn’t transport. So I definitely see the need for these.”
McDaniel added that 68-70% of emergency calls nationwide are medical.
“All fire departments’ primary role right now is providing EMS care,” she said, “So why wouldn’t we try to do it the best way that we can.”
If approved at the BOC meeting on Sept. 28, the two ambulances are scheduled to be delivered April 2022.