When Michael New climbs into the cab for work and cranks up - it's high stakes:
"Our job is just not like the normal everyday driver," New said. "If your car breaks down, you pull over and might be late. If I'm late, it could cost someone their life."
New is an Aiken County EMS Shift Supervisor. His ambulance is one of 15 in Aiken County's fleet, and with the size of the county and 18,000 to 20,000 calls per year, the mileage racks up.
"We have several that are over 300,000 miles," County Administrator Clay Killian said.
Several have been on the road for years and are pushing 400,000 miles. Others that are only a few years old have already covered nearly 80,000 miles. And those miles aren't always easy.
"We have everything from interstate highway to secondary roads to dirty and sandy roads," Emergency Director Tommy Thompson said.
While Aiken County EMS does have contingency plans for breakdowns to make sure patients stay safe, that's still stress care providers don't need.
"We're doing basically what they're doing in the hospital at a smaller scale at 55 miles per hour down the road," New said. "It's stressful enough when you're taking care of a patient, without having to worry about your truck."
They won't have those worries much longer: Four new buses were budgeted back in March and bids will be awarded to get the building started; that doesn't mean an early Christmas present for EMS though:
"Probably with delivery, it will be more like an Easter bunny present," Thompson joked.
County leaders say that's time and money well-spent:
"Absolutely worth the money, that's what we do," Killian said of public safety. The four new ambulances will cost around $600,000; that money was approved in the budget in March of 2013.
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