Multiple Aiken Co. ambulances break-down, one carrying patient

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Monday, Sep. 9, 2013

AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW) -- He doesn't work for Aiken County EMS, but an anonymous source to News 12 is close to the situation.

"Morale is really low due to the fact of low pay, and I'm sure people have heard that they're disgusted with management decisions," says the Aiken County man.

He has sources inside EMS headquarters and a scanner always by his side. One thing he's heard lately is ambulances breaking down while they're in-service.

"You hear them call to go into service, and they can't get the truck started to go to the call, and they have to call another unit," he says. "Or sometimes they get there and load the patient, and they can't get it to go to take them to the hospital."

Just last Friday, a truck at Station 8 (Sage Mill), across Bettis Academy Road from Bridgestone in Graniteville, wouldn't start.

On Sunday night, another ambulance from Station 6 (J.D. Lever) near the airport had trouble. The Aiken County Sheriff's Office says it broke down in Lexington County en-route to the hospital. A small child was being transported with respiratory problems. Lexington County EMS had to come pick up the child. Dispatch records show that added 21 minutes to the child's trip to a Lexington County hospital.

"I know all of the trucks have a lot of mileage on them, but two of them breaking down back-to-back is really concerning," says the source.

Just days ago, almost half of Aiken County's ambulance fleet was investigated during an unscheduled South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control inspection. According to a DHEC spokesman, the ambulance fleet did well overall.

"We did not observe any significant mechanical or equipment problems during our inspection," he wrote in an email to News 12.

However, our source, along with others, are skeptical.

"I think it all boils down to funding," he says. "The [Aiken] County Council needs to man up."

He adds that he and many others he knows would be happy to pay higher taxes to ensure a better EMS service.

Additionally, Director Lisa Hintz with Aiken Rescue, a non-profit ambulance service, confirms to News 12 that another county ambulance had trouble starting on Monday morning. She says an Aiken Rescue had to respond to an accident on Snipes Pond Road, since the county ambulance was unavailable.

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