Ehrhardt Rescue Squad truck moved due to call volume
Written by Jerry E. Halmon   

Due to “heavy call volume” in the cities of Bamberg and Denmark, the Ehrhardt Rescue Squad truck must be moved to a more central location from time-to-time, Martha Hammett, Operations Manager for the Bamberg Rescue Squad, told Ehrhardt Town Council members at the March meeting.

Hammett, in stating that she came to the meeting “to see if there was anything that I could explain,” noted that 80 percent of the rescue squad calls the department receives are from Bamberg and Denmark requiring that the Ehrhardt Rescue Squad truck be moved to a “more central location” (usually Clear Pond) if another call comes through. Hammett noted that by law, every EMS System in the state of South Carolina is required to have a truck on standby.

“That’s just the way it works,” Hammett said in stating that the rescue squad department was trying not “to disturb” the Ehrhardt Rescue Squad truck as much as possible. Ehrhardt Mayor Bill Stanley noted that Ehrhardt Council members were “concerned” about the Ehrhardt EMS truck not being around in an emergency situation.

Ehrhardt Town Council member Bill Edinger asked Hammett if one of the Bamberg Rescue Squad trucks could be moved to a central location. Again it was noted that because of the lower call volume in Ehrhardt compared to Bamberg and Denmark, the Ehrhardt truck had been required to be placed on standby.

Ehrhardt Town Council members questioned in an earlier meeting this year, why the Ehrhardt Rescue Squad truck had to be sent to Bamberg each day to be serviced, something they noted could be done in Ehrhardt, which could present “a life or death situation” for the town of Ehrhardt . Hammett noted that the Ehrhardt truck had to go to Bamberg each day to be checked to make sure it was properly equipped and in working order which is (a DHEC requirement) and would be a “liability” if it was not done daily.

Asked how the revenue of the Ehrhardt Rescue Squad truck compared with those of Denmark and Bamberg, Hammett stated “very little.” Hammett stated that because of “lower call volume” in Ehrhardt the “numbers speak for themselves.”

In the month of March, the Bamberg and Denmark areas recorded over 300 calls and the Ehrhardt area “maybe 100.” Hammett noted that to make matters worse as far as billing is concerned, a lot of the calls the department receive are non-transports, which the department does not collect fees for.

Hammett noted that added to the rescue squad’s financial concerns, the agency receives about one third of its funding or approximately $425,000 each year from Bamberg County, in a payroll of $800,000 and an employee force of 32 members. She noted the rescue squad has not had an increase in funding in several years and experienced a five percent cut over the last several years.

Hammett noted that when the Bamberg County Hospital Emergency room closes, (which she thought would be soon), residents of Bamberg County “will see a real problem” with area residents having to be transported out of the county medical services until the new hospital is built. Hammett noted that Ehrhardt is fortunate to have 12 certified first responders in the town to help with medical situations. “First responders are the key,” Hammett said, adding you are lucky to have 12 in Ehrhardt.

“I hope you are cognizant of our situation,” Mayor Stanley told Hammett.

Also during the meeting:

• Ehrhardt Chief of Public Safety Chad Dilling reported the fire department responded four calls doing the month, one being an accident with entrapment. Chief Dilling reported an ISO inspection was done last week and “looked good.” Dilling reported the police department created 12 case files during the period.

• In the public works department report it was noted in February the department collected $11,731.93 and in March collected $12,212.67.

• During the Mayor’s report it was noted that the town had received a $65,000 grant through Rural Development to be used on Well number three. Mayor Stanley asked council members to begin thinking of some ways the town could use proceeds from a proposed county 1 cent sales tax.