SALEM, Ohio (WKBN) – Firefighters spend most of their time heading out on medical calls, usually having to wait until a private ambulance service can show up. After a while, it takes a toll on their fire trucks. But, the Salem Fire Department has found a solution to this issue for at least the next 10 years.
In May, over 70 percent of the department’s calls were for medical reasons.
“Last month, we had approximately 154 calls, 111 of those were medicals,” said Fire Chief Scott Mason.
Over time, that takes some serious wear and tear on the trucks, which weigh about 50,000 pounds. Some of them are pushing 20 years old.
“We do preventive maintenance every year and it keeps just going up and up. Price of preventive maintenance,” Mason said.
So last year, they rented an ambulance in case medical calls went up because of the pandemic. Then with the help of the CARES Act, they were able to buy one that now sits inside of the station.
“We’ve always first responded for the last 20 odd years, but whenever an ambulance isn’t available, then we’re waiting on another company from other areas,” Mason said.
Chief Mason said the new ambulance will probably make it out to fire calls as well. All of Salem’s firefighters are trained to use it. It’s stocked up with what a standard ambulance needs.
He said it’s in no way a competition with either of the two private ambulance companies in town. In their profession, seconds matter.
“The sooner we can get advance care at the hospital, the better. So if we’re not waiting around for another ambulance company from Damascus or Green Township to come into town to help us out, then that’s way better for the patient,” Mason said.
Chief Mason said the new ambulance should be in service by Wednesday.