N.C. county EMS sees progress with new mechanics

Durham EMS is not at the point it was several months ago when ambulances were breaking down on calls

By Bill Carey 
EMS1 Staff 

DURHAM, N.C. — Five months ago, Durham ambulances were falling apart sometimes on the scene of a call and sometimes with patients inside. Sources in the department said the county was forced to operate with half the desired number of ambulances some days due to an increasing need for repairs.  

In the months since the original report, EMS officials and paramedics say the situation has improved. The county has filled the two in-house mechanic positions and obtained two new units, WTVD reported. 

Critical vehicle failure reports from Durham County detailed over 40 instances in 2022 of major repairs needed for ambulances. 

In several cases, paramedics said the ambulance would just stop accelerating or the engine would shut off. Doors would become jammed or lights would not turn on. The rear tires broke off one ambulance. The report said, "One hit a light pole and the other went into a person's yard." 

Chief Paramedic Mark Lockhart said that the new mechanics have been able to keep ambulances in service. 

"As far as the routine maintenance is concerned, they’ve kept us on the road. Right now, we show four to five spare units available each day. We will have an occasional day where we don't have any spares -- weekends are notorious for that,” Lockhart said.  

Lockhart explained that the spares are critical to keeping the county where it needs to be until the newer ambulances arrive. The county should have nine new ambulances by the end of the year.  


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