Counties across Green Country are struggling with getting more ambulances. News on 6 spoke to EMS directors, who say demand for more trucks has skyrocketed due to more COVID cases.
Okmulgee County EMS director James Nichols says his trucks are driving more as COVID numbers increase, and he fears any of his trucks could break down at any moment.
“It's kind of scary, we are putting a lot of maintenance into our trucks and that money could be set aside to buy new vehicles,“ Nichols said. However, he says buying new vehicles is an issue as well.
“Vehicle prices have jumped up. I've seen jumps in prices looking at new ambulances $20,000 plus more than they were a year and a half ago,“ Nichols admitted.
As of now Okmulgee county is currently down about two trucks, but in larger counties like Muskogee, their need is even bigger. Muskogee EMS director Laurel Havens says 14 of his 25 ambulances need to be replaced. However, he says the demand is so high across the country, Muskogee can't get any new trucks for another year,
“One of the fears that we have is if we go through that same type of surge with the same trips and the number of miles on our aging fleet --- is going to be a big issue," Havens said.
Both Havens and Nichols say Oklahomans can help by getting the vaccine. “The big thing is it's treatable, a lot of the beds being taken are with patients that could have gotten the vaccine and wouldn’t have needed to see hospital care," Havens explained.
“Ambulances are the lifeline from when you call 911 to when you get to the hospital. Oklahomans need to worry about that because if they can't get there themselves, then who's going to get them there?" said Nichols.