Shelby County Fire Gets A Dozen To Go Ambulances

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) - Brand new ambulances. 12 of them. So fresh from the factory they still had the new ambulance smell. Local 24's Mike Matthews says they are the final pieces of a 16 week rush to start a Shelby County ambulance service.
 
A dozen bright red ambulances for the Shelby County Fire Department.
Inside the vehicles were people in light blue shirts who  just got out of the fire academy a day ago, and will now start riding in these new ambulances.
It's a story that has a beginning, like all stories do.
 
One year ago, the county had a private company doing the job in Millington and Arlington and unincorporated areas.
After they wanted a lot more of your money to keep working, Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell and others said no.
In just four months, Shelby County Fire started their own ambulance service. "They made this thing work real quick," Mayor Luttrell says.
 
The initial expense of starting an ambulance service from scratch is costly, but in the long run, officials like Luttrell say Shelby County taxpayers will save money with this new service."It's expanding the efficiency," says Luttrell, "... the professionalism of the department. We are improving services and actually we're doing it at a lower cost than it would take us to out source it." 
 
What happened here was sort of a Shelby County version of blessing the fishing fleet before season, with Reverend Keith Norman of First Baptist Broad Church doing the honors, saying, "Now we pray for the men and the women who will serve the constituents and the citizens of this great county."
 
About nine years ago, there was serious talk of doing away with the Shelby County Fire Department.
Studies were being done to see if it would be smart to merge county fire with Memphis City Fire.
Now, there is no such talk.
In fact, they are looking at hiring more people for the ambulance services. "The (Shelby County) Fire department has been here since 1972," says Chief Alvin Benson. "We've been fire focused. I think we've turned the corner. We're addressing our core business, which quite frankly is E-M-S."
 
Once the ceremony ended, four of the new ambulances immediately were put into service. The rest will get going in the next several days.
 

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