Broken ambulances a concern in Cowley County

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WINFIELD, Kansas – There’s concerns over safety in Cowley County as break downs plague an aging ambulance fleet, leaving 900 square miles around Winfield covered by just one ambulance Friday night.

“We’re doing the best we can with the resources we have available,” said Winfield EMS director Justin Waite.

Normally, Winfield has four working ambulances in their fleet.

One broke down a couple of weeks ago. A second went into the shop late last week. And on Friday night, a third broke down while out on a call.

With the fourth ambulance en route to Wichita transporting a patient, Winfield had to call in help from another county.

“It is very frustrating,” said Waite. “Not only to me but to the technicians because we try to provide the equipment and tools they need to do the job and they feel like they’re let down or failed when they’re not able to perform the job they’re trained to do.”

The ambulance that broke down on Friday night was back in service by Saturday morning.

The average lifespan of an ambulance is around 10 years. That’s the average age of the fleet in Winfield. With their large service area, the ambulances drive 50,000 to 55,000 miles a year.

“Just over time with wear and tear you’re going to have electrical issues, mechanical, and plumbing issues that develop.

Ambulance service runs as a stand alone agency owned by the city of Winfield. Waite says EMS is working with both the city of Winfield and Cowley County to find money in the budget for new ambulances.

The remaining two ambulances in the shop are expected to be back in service by the end of the week.

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