Local News

Wake EMS adding souped-up cars, more highly trained medics

Posted January 5, 2009
Updated January 6, 2009

— Wake County's Emergency Medical Services Department is adding several souped-up Dodge Chargers as part of a new program designed to bolster its ambulance fleet at the same time it deploys more highly trained paramedics to drive them and to make ambulance use more efficient.

The county announced Monday that the new group, known as advanced practice paramedics, will be dispatched in the cars to help treat the most acute patients and prevent emergencies in high-risk patient populations such as the elderly.

Previously, the paramedics rode only in ambulances.

Orange County also has begun to issue the Chargers, which are being used by the Highway Patrol and several local police departments in recent years, to paramedics.

The new muscle cars offer both speed and trunk space for paramedics to respond quickly to emergencies, potentially stabilizing patients until an ambulance arrives. Officials say the cars also get far better gas mileage than ambulances.

In the past, dispatchers sometimes used two ambulances to provide the necessary number of paramedics for a call at which procedures required more than one person with their level of training. The new program will allow many of those patients to be treated by a paramedic in a Charger and one in an  ambulance while the second ambulance remains in service.

The advanced paramedic program involves 17 experienced medics who received intense classroom and clinical training for the new roles, the county said.

“We have a shortage of paramedics, both nationally and in the state of North Carolina,” Dr. Brent Myers, Wake County EMS director, said. “This program allows us to make more efficient use of the paramedics that we do have, not only by getting the paramedics where we need them the most, but also by investing their time in prevention with the most acute patient populations that we see.

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  • Lake Gaston Jan 8, 2009

    First, I would like to say Thank You to WRAL for adding in correct information, unlike the N/O...."first of its kind in the nation", Orange County has been doing this for years(1997) and started using V6 chargers about a year ago, along with Expeditions...etc. Thanks!

  • leo-nc Jan 8, 2009

    "I think if we can handle driving a 5 ton or so ambulance fast we can handle driving a car fast"----

    Not even the same animal. Having done both, I suggest you guys get some good training on how to drive those vehicles at high speeds if that is what you plan on doing with them. Maybe EMS and SHP can work something out at the driving track. EVDO course given by the state is NOT enough.

  • dws Jan 7, 2009

    If my comments were taken as derogatory toward EMS personnel, I apologize, for that was not the intent. My concern is the equipment, namely high horsepower/high torque rear wheel drive vehicles that must go in ALL types of weather and road conditions.

    They are a different animal....demand that you be given the opportunity to train in them on closed road courses.

  • centermedic Jan 7, 2009

    Medical Director of the Year
    Cardiac Arrest Save Rates twice the national average
    Consistent response times
    One of three cities doing Induced hypothermia
    The citizens of Wake county get all this with a smaller budget and less apparatus than most similiar sized EMS systems.
    Yeah, that points to ineefective leadership.
    As for the Chargers, these are emergency vehicles and are expected to hold up to the rigors of emergency response. There is a reason nobody in public safety uses the Toyota Prius. The Charger is cheaper to buy, operate and maintain than an SUV. But nobody would have complained if the county went and bought $40,000 Suburbans. Instead of being so negative use that same energy and thank a medic for the sacrifices that they and their famalies make to serve our great community.

  • ridemtb Jan 7, 2009

    I think if we can handle driving a 5 ton or so ambulance fast we can handle driving a car fast. It seems to me that a car has much better handling than a box truck.
    Why is it if the Fire Dept. got a new several hundred thousand dollar apparatus or the police outfit themselves with the best assault rifles on the market nothing is said? We are the only ones you got for a quite possibly the longest ride of your life. Sometimes we need a little help too. You get a team of Doctors and Nurses at the hospital you should expect the same care outside of the hospital.
    The car is just that a car. My understanding is that this car is already under county contract so we pay a fraction of the actual cost. I suppose a hybrid Honda would work or and electric car but not in the time that it is needed to work. This is a large county.

  • dws Jan 7, 2009

    lol, have any of the pro Charger folks ever driven a performance car? high horsepower and high torque are not your friends on anything but dry pavement.....and note that I said pavement: off road situations create clearance problems....that, and rear wheel drive are a call for the tow truck

  • dhamma Jan 6, 2009

    I think its a great idea. I think some of the comments are amusing. What are they supposed to be driving? The Charger does not ONLY come with the two optional V8's there are V6 Versions as well and yes some police departments do use the V6. Why are you going to require additional training for such a car when a civilian owner does not have to go through the same training? Be honest, If someone buys a Charger with a HEMI in it they Will occasionally put it through its paces. In any event, If it means being able to diversify the squad by having more folks out there to help I am all for it.

  • CandyParamedic Jan 6, 2009

    Ready to go, do you have any basis for calling Dr. Myers ineffective? As an EMS system, we have one of the highest cardiac arrest save rates in the country and some of the best educated paramedics. Brent brings a level of care, clinical competency, and medical direction/support for the paramedics that is unsurpassed.

  • DJ of Clayton Jan 6, 2009

    I do have to wonder...how many of the nay-sayers were rejected for the APP program?

  • retired and luv it Jan 6, 2009

    I wish all our public safety services could separate the Bling from the job at hand and apply tax dollars to proven equipment for the job. Troopers and Helicopters? Troopers and Motorcycles in addition to a car? Troopers and attack dogs that have to be abused to make them meaner? Now EMS needs Dodge Chargers. Why not NASCAR surplus--is that Bling enough for EMS?

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