Medic 73 has responded to 17 calls in its first week of service.
Two firefighters backed the new Port Orange ambulance into Station 73 on Monday, April 22. It was afternoon, and Joseph Cid and Cody Birge, both who are dual certified paramedics, had just returned from responding to a call regarding an unconscious man in the Walmart parking lot.
It was the second transport of the day for the new Port Orange Medic 73 ambulance.
The ambulance started service last Monday, April 15, and after 47 minutes, went out on its first call. In the first week of service, there have been 14 emergency and 3 non-emergency transports for the vehicle. The ambulance is in service from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, which are peak demand hours.
Medic 73 is a 2017 ambulance that was a demo and had 16,000 miles on it when purchased, Port Orange Fire Chief Ken Fustin said. After outfitting it with needed medical equipment and supplies, the cost to the department was $180,000. That price was approximately $60,000 less than most new transport units.
The ambulance was paid for from taxes raised through millage.
The Port Orange emergency system is part of a Critical Ambulance Response Element program, which sends the closest emergency vehicle to a situation. Other emergency response units run on the PLUS program, or Peak Load Utilization System, which send out municipal ambulances only in the event the county EVACS are at maximum capacity.
"I have never been in favor of an arrangement like that,” Fustin said. “I am a firm believer in sending the closest available resources to any emergency call, regardless of whose sticker is on the side of the vehicle.”
After multiple meetings with various officials from the cities management association, county government, and county ambulance providers, the county came up with a formalized CARE agreement. Currently, each municipality that has its own ambulance is developing its own CARE agreement. Port Orange was first to have one.
“It is absolutely better for our citizens,” Fustin said.
Goals for the future of the Port Orange Fire Department include gradually adding additional ambulances and building a training tower in the city, he explained.
Fustin talked about a time when two houses burned to the ground in Port Orange because all of their units were at the training facility 40 minutes from the city. Trucks could not get back in time to respond to the emergency call.
“That was unacceptable,” Fustin said.
This story was updated at 1 p.m. on Tuesday, April 23, to reflect that the ambulance was paid for through taxes. A previous version of this story reported it was paid for by fire service impact fees.