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Decision Delayed in Purchase of 4-Wheel-Drive Ambulance

TORRANCE COUNTY, N.M. -- Because they had not been consulted before the application, Torrance County Commissioners decided to wait before approving an application for the purchase of a four-wheel-drive ambulance to be "owned by" the county.

Scott Wilson, quality assurance coordinator for Superior Ambulance, asked commissioners Dec. 19 for a letter of support and a commitment to a 25 percent match or about $25,000 to apply to the cost of the new ambulance.

Superior provides ambulance service to the area under a contract with the county.

"It's not uncommon for these types of vehicles to run from $90,000 to $100,000," Wilson said in a phone interview Dec. 20.

Wilson told commissioners he received an extension of time to file a special projects application to the state Emergency Medical Services Fund Act. The original deadline was Nov. 1, and Wilson's application was filed Nov. 19.

EMS Fund Act money comes through the state Department of Health.

Although Superior applied for the funding, the county would own the vehicle after its purchase and it would be used exclusively in Torrance County, Wilson told commissioners.

"We maintain, we insure, we do preventive maintenance and repairs (on the ambulance)," Wilson said about Superior's responsibilities.

Pat Lincoln, coordinator for the Torrance County Project Office, objected to Wilson's application.

"There's a grants management policy in place" requiring the county to review any grant applications before filing, Lincoln said.

Wilson replied that the EMS Fund Act "is not classified as a grant."

Superior operates three ambulances, two of which are always in service at any one time, but all three are two-wheel-drive. There have been a couple of times that getting to a patient was difficult for Superior, Wilson said.

"The majority of Torrance County roads are dirt. Once snow builds up and melts, the ground becomes mud and it makes it very difficult for vehicles to get through," Wilson said.

On several occasions, Superior had to utilize fire department vehicles, and Wilson would prefer to be able to operate independently.

District 1 Commissioner Jim Frost made a motion to table the request "to give the county manager, fire department and interested people time to do further research."

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