CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - With area growth straining the Charleston County EMS services, county leaders are looking to make major upgrades to keep up with the increased demand.
“We want to do better than what we’re doing now,” Charleston County EMS director David Abrams said. “The impact for the growth of Charleston County is why our department has to continuously look at ways to evolve and improve the service.”
Currently, Charleston County EMS has 17 ambulances during the day and ten at night.
But they need to be running more than 30 ambulances each day to keep response times down, cover more areas and keep up with increased calls.
“We do not have the resources, number one, we don’t have the personnel,” Abrams said.
So to help, Abrams said the county is looking at approving $2,680,000 to expand the department and add four new ambulances, refurbish two others, give pay raises to current employees and hire more than 40 others over the next year.
“For me the biggest impact is we’re going to decrease the workload on our current employee workforce who are really, really just overworked,” Abrams said.
County councilwoman Anna Johnson said she supports the efforts to upgrade the department.
“I think the request is well needed for us to get the kind of quality in the EMS system that we want to have,” Johnson said.
Community members on Edisto Island say they also hope to benefit from the EMS upgrades.
“They’re very, very spread out in this area because it’s such a large area especially unincorporated area like Edisto Island,” Edisto resident Jack Diluna said.
Rev. Abraham Gadsden says the most pressing issue is replacing a small, outdated building and the only EMS station on the county’s Edisto Island.
“It was at one time a house that was converted into the station,” Gadsden said. “We would like to see an upgrade and new and modern equipment and better facilities.”
Councilwoman Johnson, who represents the area, says she too wants to see a greater EMS presence in rural Charleston County.
“Rural facilities are just, sometimes fall through the cracks and so we need to improve the facility as well as increasing manpower,” Johnson said.
The county’s EMS director said he will do what he can to help.
“We’re looking at the quality and the health of all of our stations throughout the county including the one, such as Edisto which is just an older station that probably needs a little more attention than we’ve given it,” Abrams said.
Charleston County Council will take up the funding during Thursday’s finance committee meeting.