The first new ambulance arrives at Station 44 | News | Daily Sun Villages

The Villages Public Safety Department has a brand new bright and shiny Crimson Ambulance – the first of 12 to come. The gold and black VPSD name and logo shimmered in the sun as Fire Chief Edmund Cain introduced the new vehicle at Station 44,” Cain said. “At least with this truck we can start the training process and we can start storing and playing with things.” In January, the Village Center Community Development District unanimously approved the purchase of 12 ambulances for approximately $2.48 million and approved $906,000 for additional mandatory equipment needed to supply each ambulance. The creation of an ambulance fleet is a key step for the Villages Public Safety Department to provide emergency ambulance transport beginning Oct. 1, a move Sumter County Commissioners approved, at the exception of currently suspended commissioner Oren Miller, who voted against the required certification.

The journey to the new ambulances began last summer after residents complained about slow response times from American Medical Response, the private company contracted by Sumter County.

After much discussion at meetings of the Sumter County commission and an ad hoc citizens’ committee throughout the summer and fall, the county decided in September to terminate its contract with AMR and to allow VPSD and Sumter County Fire and EMS to work toward the October 1 date to operate. their own separate ambulance operations.

Throughout the process, village residents like Kate and Bill Svagdis of the Village of Bonnybrook have expressed support for VPSD and a need for faster ambulance arrival times.

“Two incidents happened where someone needed an ambulance,” said Kate, who is part of the DEA Neighbors Saving Neighbors program in her village. “The fire truck arrived right away which is great, the chief came right away, the police came right away, but the ambulance took 40 minutes to get to our patient. So it’s bad.

Kate is delighted that the ambulances have started to arrive.

“It’s fantastic,” she said. “It’s really super.”

The new ambulance and 11 others took to the streets Oct. 1, as the contract with American Medical Response ends Sept. 30, Cain said.

The department is waiting for the other vehicles to arrive and order new equipment from them such as radios, computers, medicine, air packs and even a device that will do CPR, Cain said.

The newest and most exciting piece of equipment already on the ambulance is a motorized, battery-powered stretcher.

“It’s completely motorized now,” Cain said. “It will reduce back injuries and is safe for the patient. All 12 trucks will have the same type of structure, so that’s a big plus.

Ambulances also automatically lower about 6 inches when the rear doors open, making it easier to load stretchers and enter, Cain said.

The twin of this ambulance is on its way to the FDIC International National Fire Conference in Indianapolis for a few weeks. FDIC International approached Cain and asked to display the ambulance at the conference, he said.

Most ambulances have an EMT and a paramedic on board, but some VPSDs might have two of the more advanced paramedics, Cain said. Each ambulance can accommodate two patients.

VPSD personnel will soon begin training on how to use the equipment, store the trucks and drive them, as they differ from other VPSD vehicles, he said. Supply chain issues are causing delays, but they expect to have all vehicles and equipment by Oct. 1, Cain said.

Kenny Blocker, District Director of Village Community Development Districts, is delighted that the first ambulance has arrived and that all the hard work his department has been doing since last summer is finally coming to fruition.

“We’re still managing this whole process,” Blocker said of the challenge of securing 12 ambulances in today’s market. “Unfortunately, we are currently facing all these supply chain shortages. It’s a monumental task that we’re putting in place, but we’re working through the issues, and I know we’ll overcome it. But that’s a big reason why it’s so great to see this first rollout, and we’ll have more in the next two months.

The next 11 ambulances are scheduled to arrive as follows: four in May, five in August and two in September, Cain said.

The arrival of the ambulances is perfectly synchronized with the efforts to establish an independent fire district within the Villages. A bill sponsored by Rep. Brett Hage, R-Oxford, passed the Florida Senate (39-0) and House of Representatives (116-0) in March, and is now awaiting the governor’s signature. Ron DeSantis. This will allow the issue to get past voters on the ballot this fall.

A fire control district independent of county control would allow The Villages to tailor its resources to the unique needs of the community that extends beyond Sumter County, creating agreements with other government entities.

The boundaries of the new district would include all villages in Sumter County, with some surrounding areas outside of the community but within the Villages Public Safety Department service area.

Areas elsewhere in Sumter County would continue to be serviced by the Sumter County Fire and Rescue Department.

The district would be able to raise its own funds and determine its own expenditures so that village residents know precisely where every penny has been spent.

The district would be governed by an elected council.

Editor Veronica Wernicke can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5307, or [email protected]

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