AIKEN - The city is exploring options for cutting down its response times to medical emergencies.
Pete Frommer, the Aiken Department of Public Safety's director, told city officials at their annual planning session Friday that training two people as emergency medical technicians could help save lives.
Mr. Frommer said the city is served by four ambulances, which are stationed at the Aiken County Complex, J.D. Lever Elementary School, New Ellenton and Langley on U.S. Highway 1. "There easily is 30-minute responses. Sometime, 45 minutes if they're really, really busy," he said.
City Manager Roger LeDuc said that, in some instances, ambulances have been dispatched from the Wagener-Salley area to respond to calls in North Augusta.
Mr. Frommer said that under his proposal, one emergency medical technician would be stationed at public safety headquarters on the north side of town and another on the south side.
He said the public safety department started a medical first responder program in 1996. Under the program, officers received training at a higher level than basic first aid but less than state-licensed emergency medical technician training.
"We save two, three, four lives a year providing that service," Mr. Frommer said.
The EMT program could operate under the Aiken County Emergency Medical Services license.
According to city documents, the county makes an average of 350 medical emergency calls a month inside Aiken city limits.
Mr. LeDuc said it would cost $10,000 to $15,000 per person annually to implement the program.
In other business, city officials also discussed a plan to annex the Whiskey Road right of way, which is controlled by the South Carolina Department of Transportation.
If Whiskey Road was in the city limits, officials said, the city could help enforce the road's speed limit and operate its traffic signals, which currently are controlled by the state.
Reach Betsy Gilliland at (803) 648-1395, ext. 113, or firstname.lastname@example.org.