Local News

Johnston County Ambulances in Need of a Little First Aid

Posted June 10, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— If your car breaks down and you don't have money to have it fixed, you're stuck. The same is true for a local rescue squad. Both of their "good" ambulances are broken down. They don't have the budget to fix them, and their old back-up ambulance only starts some of the time.

Johnston County has a problem. All nine of the county's rescue squads are short of money. Still no one expected what happened Tuesday morning. Someone called for the Benson Rescue squad and Benson couldn't respond.

Eighty-six-year-old Rena Denning fell and cut her arm. The cut was so bad she had to call the rescue squad. Denning lives in Benson, but the ambulance had to come from another town seven miles away.

Denning didn't know the rescue squad was from Dunn. She was told when they arrived all of Benson's crews were out.

They were all out alright. Two of Benson's ambulances are in the shop. The third, a 1981 model, just wouldn't crank over.

The Benson rescue squad isn't proud of the situation at hand. In fact, they are relieved Tuesday's call from Rena Denning wasn't life threatening.

One squad member says this was the first time in his 19 years of experience that there was no ambulance there to make the call. The situation comes as the result of years of shrinking budgets and expanding costs. The old ambulance kicked over this time, but right now it's all they've got in Benson.

Two ambulances are in one repair shop. Number 52 has engine problems. Number 51 has transmission trouble. Mechanics are close to coming up with a repair estimate, but Benson may not have the money.

Benson is just one of several Johnston County rescue squads that have a critical cash shortage. A study designed to help fix the problems will be out in less than a week. The squad just hopes the money gets there before someone calls for an ambulance and no one can respond.