Local News

Johnston County Ambulances in Need of a Little First Aid

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BENSON — If your car breaks down and you don't have money to have it fixed, you'restuck. 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, andtheir old back-up ambulance only starts some of the time.

Johnston County has a problem. All nine of the county's rescue squads areshort 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 badshe had to call the rescue squad. Denning lives in Benson, but theambulance had to come from another town seven miles away.

Denning didn't know the rescue squad was from Dunn. She was told whenthey 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 lifethreatening.

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

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

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