- August 7, 2019
Manatee County Emergency Medical Services is set to welcome a super-sized duo to its response team — two new Braun Super Chief ambulances that will increase the fleet size to 21.
When county commissioners approved the Fiscal Year 2020-21 budget Sept. 21, it paved the way for EMS to acquire the vehicles, which are Braun Super Chief Type 1s with Freightliner M2 frames, for $328,277 each. One will be located at the East Manatee Fire Rescue Station 7 on Covenant Way in Lakewood Ranch. The other will become Myakka City’s first ambulance, stationed at Myakka City Fire Rescue Station 1 on Wauchula Road.
While the new ambulances won't arrive for approximately a year, both sites will receive an EMS "spare" ambulance in the coming weeks that will be replaced when the new ambulances arrive. EMS keeps a few ambulances in reserve to work into the rotation when other ambulances are out of service to receive maintenance or body work.
The lifespan of each unit is generally 150,000 miles or seven years, whichever comes first. The county actually is purchasing five new ambulances this fiscal year, but three of them are replacing ambulances that are being taken out of service.
The Braun Super Chief vehicles are the same model Manatee County has been using for years. Manatee County EMS Chief James Crutchfield said it’s important all the ambulances in the fleet are similar. Paramedics aren’t paired with specific units, so maintaining uniformity decreases the chance for errors.
“You want everything to be the same in the same spot,” Crutchfield said. “It's like an operating room. Doctor goes into one operating room. All the syringes are in here. The sterile supplies are over there. It's the same for an ambulance.”
Current response times in the greater Lakewood Ranch area are about 10 to 12 minutes, according to Crutchfield, while response times in Myakka can reach 20 minutes or more, according to Daniel Cacchiotti, Myakka City’s fire chief.
Though Crutchfield said “everything is conceptual until it starts working,” he believes the two additional ambulances will help shave minutes off both those response times. Residents who live within six to eight miles of either station will see the largest improvement.
Myakka City, in particular, will see an immediate improvement in response time with the introduction of its first ambulance. Until now, an ambulance has been sent from the Lakewood Ranch area to Myakka City. That will change Oct. 12 when the "spare" ambulance arrives at Myakka City Fire Rescue.
“It’s a tremendous boost for the community,” Cacchiotti said.
Cacchiotti said he’s been working to make this happen for years alongside Crutchfield and Manatee County Public Safety Director Jacob Saur. He said he is thankful to the county commissioners for their approval.
Once Myakka City gets its own ambulance, EMS will shift an ambulance stationed at East Manatee Fire Rescue Station 5, 15015 59th Ave. E., to the new EMS hub in Lakewood Ranch at 10311 Malachite Dr.
That ambulance had served the Myakka City area.
“It's just to better strategically place the vehicles where the call volume is,” Crutchfield said.
The two new additions will be staffed 24 hours a day. Most of Manatee County’s ambulances are, but a few are staffed only for 12-hour day or night shifts.
“We're able to predict times of the day when people call 911 based on years of data, all the way down to the hour,” Crutchfield said. “So in those times [when there are more calls], we have more ambulances working. When there are less 911 calls, we turn ambulances off. … At night, there's fewer calls because people sleep at nighttime.”
Each unit will be staffed by one field training officer or charge paramedic and one paramedic or emergency medical technician. The base salaries are $48,598.44 for an FTO, $46,284.22 for a charge paramedic, $42,316.99 for a paramedic and $33,686.54 for an EMT.
According to Crutchfield, the rest of the budget is status quo, with no additions from last year.
“I honestly cannot remember the last time Manatee County added two trucks at once,” he said.