Local News

Robeson County Facing Ambulance Shortage

Posted July 25, 2007

— When you call 911, you expect there will be a working ambulance to respond. In Robeson County, however, the ambulances keep breaking down.

Robeson County EMS has a fleet of 12 ambulances. Six work on one 12-hour shift, and the other half work on the other 12-hour shift. They cover 946 square miles – the largest county in the state.

Matthew Locklear, deputy commander of the Pembroke Rescue Squad, said a call came in last week and the county was down to just one ambulance. It needed to borrow one of Pembroke’s two trucks.

Locklear said the county’s shortage puts a strain on his ambulances.

“There’s no coverage. There’s not enough ambulances on the road,” he said.

Noah Woods, chairman of the Robeson County Board of Commissioners, said each truck costs at least $100,000. The county has purchased six that will be in operation within the next two months. Two current ambulances will be replaced.

“We just had a number of them break down at the same time,” said Dr. Bruce Whitman, director of the emergency department at Southeastern Regional Medical Center. “Patients have not been at risk, but there have been times when there have been long delays.”

By September, the county expects to have 15 ambulances available.

WRAL did a story on the ambulance problems in April 2006. County officials said then that Ford had sold them lemons, and the engines didn’t work.


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  • emsworker25 Jul 26, 2007

    i work at this rural area ems agency. and we only run 2 ambulances a day. it gets rough when the 3 of the 4 ambulances that are usually in rotation have 160K or more miles on it. they are constantly breaking down and we get stuck at the hospital with the ambulance not wanting to start. i can definately relate to the people of robeson county ems. at my agency, we can't get a new ambulance b/c the ppl in charge of the county funds don't see the need.

  • ralguy Jul 26, 2007

    The biggest problem facing Robeson County EMS is not the fact that they are facing an ambulance shortage right now; but the fact that they are short even when operating all the ambulances they have. Without the funding needed to provide proper coverage throughout the county, the residents and employess of that system are the ones suffering. With the current call volume RCEMS needs a fleet double the size it is currently operating. This is putting dangerous amounts of stress on those who work there as well as putting the residents of that county at risk. The level of care provided there is outstanding, however with extended response times it really jeprodizes patient care.

  • obxmedic27 Jul 25, 2007

    Serving Since Tuesday...I completley understand where you are coming from...I work in a very very nearby county that has staffing shortages like you wouldnt believe....we have people leave here everyday due to money and managment...more so the later one......so I know where you are coming from.....our upper managment, who might I add havent been on a truck in probably years, make decisions for us medics in the streets that make no sense what so ever...then they dont understand what the problem is and why people are leaving....what is communication between us street medics and the managment???

  • ServingSinceTuesday Jul 25, 2007

    Don’t worry – Wake County our capital county has A LOT of ambulances. They just have a management team who cannot keep employees. If you or your company provides courses in communication and interpersonal relations please contact Wake EMS. A LOT of ambulances is no good when you can not staff them.

  • bigtuck129 Jul 25, 2007

    I understand how they feel to, we only have 5 trucks in our whole EMS Service in Warren CO. and 4 out 5 of them have over 150,000 miles on them.......... Talk about STRAIN.....

  • obxmedic27 Jul 25, 2007

    I understand about the truck shortage in Robeson County....I also work for a fairly large EMS system in the triad area and constatnly we are down no less then two trucks per day and on some days three trucks....It is a strain on the whole system and creates a high burn out rate when there are not enough trucks to run as many calls.....and to the medics in Robeson County keep your head up and hopefully it will get better.......