Lexington County turns down new ambulance for Chapin

Lexington County Council would not accept a $365,000 gift that was intended for the purchase of an ambulance to support the Chapin side of Lake Murray. The money was tapped as a line item in the state budget sponsored by Senator Ronnie Cromer to help his district of Irmo, Ballentine and Chapin.

After Lexington County Administrator Lynn Sturkie presented the idea to council he said that the additional ambulance would interfere with the rotation of the other ambulances. The roving ambulances, which number near 30, drive around in different parts of the county and respond to the areas where needed. One is stationed near Chapin and another near Ballentine.

“I thought that having a stationary ambulance in Chapin and maybe one in Irmo would help out a lot,” said Senator Cromer. “This would free up the others and confine the spaces somewhat.”

Lexington County Councilwoman Charli Wessinger from the District 6 area that serves Chapin told media that the gift from the state wasn’t enough to purchase the equipment and staff needed. She stated that it would cost close to $1 million to equip and staff a working ambulance.

But information that Senator Cromer’s staff found from the SC EMS Association states that an ambulance would cost only $350,000 and the gift was for $365,000 to cover any additional costs.

Sturkie said they could use the money but didn’t want the ambulance.

“Unfortunately, the Senate Finance Chairman is a stickler to line items in the budget,” said Cromer. “He would only allow the money to be used for the specific purpose to which it was allocated.”

The $350,000 went back into the General Fund of the State. Cromer says he will try again next year when the budget is brought back up in the Senate.

Response times is still the major issue in Chapin and residents have complained of long waits for responders. The extra ambulance was hoped to improve the response times and alleviate some of the burden on fellow EMS workers.

“This demonstrates the utter most incompetence, bordering on negligence, of our county council,” said JJ Resnick, a former EMT. Resnick is currently running for County Council Dist. 6 which includes the Chapin/Ballentine area. “You take advantage of that gift that you are offered and in dire need of.”

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