Dinwiddie at times without ambulance crews, funding blamed - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Dinwiddie at times without ambulance crews, funding blamed

DINWIDDIE, VA (WWBT) -

Families in Dinwiddie are waiting longer during medical emergencies, as dispatchers on some occasions may not have crews to staff ambulances. Dinwiddie's Fire and EMS chief is now asking County leaders for a larger budget, in order to decrease wait times and hire more staff.

"Over 300 callers a year are waiting for more than 23 minutes for an ambulance," said Chief Dennis Hale in an interview Friday. "We have more than enough physical resources. What we're asking for is staffing for those resources."

A call may come into Dinwiddie's 911 center, but there may not always be an ambulance to answer the call. There may not always be staff available to man ambulances, but Hale says a $75,000 increase in funding could change the situation.

"It would be used to hire more part-time workers, or to pay to have them work longer during prime hours," Hale said. "Only two of our ambulances are staffed 24 hours."

Currently, there are six ambulances in four different stations across Dinwiddie. If a crew isn't available, a call is made from the 911 center to another municipality for assistance.

"You can image if someone is waiting for an ambulance in McKenney for example, and the ambulance is coming from Colonial Heights or Petersburg, those times, even though you're getting an ambulance, are pretty lengthy," Hale said.

Dinwiddie EMS will know in April whether or not the increase in funding will become a reality. A major roadblock so far – gridlock at the State Capitol.

With no hope in sight to end the state budget standoff, counties like Dinwiddie do not know the exact amount of money the state will send.

"If the funding doesn't come through, we'll continue to use our system of mutual assistance from neighboring communities," Hale said. "We are always getting ambulances to people, no matter what. But I would certainly like it to happen faster."

Copyright 2014 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.

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