Daytona Beach News Journal

Deltona, OC eye joint rescue unit

By BOB KOSLOW
Staff Writer

Last update: July 12, 2005

ORANGE CITY -- Improving emergency response times in the city's south end and along Interstate 4 in Deltona is a goal officials hope to achieve with a special medical rescue truck that could be on the road within months.
Orange City and Deltona officials are close to an agreement to jointly staff an ambulance-like truck that would operate from Florida Hospital Fish Memorial at Saxon Boulevard and Veterans Memorial Parkway.

"This will be a refinement of our closest-unit response agreement we already have between the cities," Orange City City Manager John McCue said. "It's a way to reduce our costs of running equipment and improve services."

The medical rescue truck would respond to medical-only calls, probably between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. when Orange City gets 80 percent of its calls. The new service also would reduce the costs and times needed to roll out a larger fire engine to a medical call. Patients would not be transported to hospitals.

Another goal, still in the planning stage, is to create an independent Southwest Volusia fire district, which may include DeBary, officials said. Voters would have to approve creating a fire district, which then would tax property owners for operating and capital needs.

The cities could then use current fire department budgets that are about $1 million each on other city needs.

"This would be a model to start with and then maybe we could approach the county and include Enterprise and Osteen," Deltona Mayor John Masiarczyk said. "That would save money by eliminating duplicated services and unifying shared services like purchasing and training. As big as the cities are getting here, we can't continue competing with each other."

DeBary Mayor Carmen Rosamonda said the final cost to taxpayers and levels of service would determine if DeBary switched from a county fire service contract to participating in a regional fire district approved by the voters.

The cities already are familiar with each other. Deltona dispatches Orange City fire units and the cities have a closest-unit agreement for medical and fire calls.

Nearly all of Deltona's aid to Orange City has been in the heavy-commercial Saxon Boulevard corridor of southeast Orange City.

Orange City's average response times in the Saxon Boulevard area, farthest away from the city's only fire station, have recently edged beyond the desired eight minutes, Interim Fire Chief Herb Hoffman said.

The medical rescue unit would increase service levels at a minimum cost while the city determines if a second station or a closest unit agreement with Volusia County solves the long-term need in the growing area.

The medical rescue unit could be operational in a couple months, while a fire district is many years down the road, officials said.

bob.koslow@news-jrnl.com