Berkeley Co. Council approves over $200,000 for new ambulances

Berkeley County officials say new ambulances are not a want, but a need.
Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 4:46 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 28, 2023 at 6:36 PM EDT
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BERKELEY COUNTY, S.C. (WCSC) - Berkeley County officials say new ambulances are not a want, but a need. Over $200,000 has been approved by the county council to be added to the current fiscal budget to fund three new ambulances and three new stretchers for Berkeley County EMS.

With the rise of inflation and supply chain issues, Berkeley County EMS says their former vendor for ambulances upped their prices by almost $100,000 a unit. EMS says that’s not feasible.

“So, pre-COVID we would look at about eight to ten months for delivery for an ambulance,” Michael Shirey, Chief of Berkeley County EMS, said. “Today, we’re still waiting for ambulances that we ordered in 2021.”

Shirey says these vehicles will replace current ambulances that need to be retired because of the upkeep in maintenance costs and added miles. He says this should not have an impact on response times.

“Safety was probably the single biggest differentiation for these trucks,” Shirey said. “The ambulances we chose have more safety features than it offered by other vendors.”

This money will come in addition to their current fiscal budget and will not come out of any other department. Berkeley County councilman Josh Whitley says this was possible because the county’s revenues have exceeded their expenses by several million dollars a year, leaving leftover money to spend.

“It wasn’t a want. It was a need...” Whitley said. “My personal view: We need to be adding a unit every time our population grows by 15,000 people, which would be every two years. So, from a budget standpoint that’s doable.”

Berkeley County EMS says one of these ambulances is expected to arrive in seven months and the other two will arrive in a little over a year.