Rush for gas affects Greene County EMS workers

Greene County has had to limit travel and limit the number of trucks they respond with, depending on the call.
Rush for gas affects Greene County EMS workers
Updated: May. 13, 2021 at 7:08 PM EDT
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GREENE COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - While much of the Southeast waits for gas supply after Colonial Pipeline restarted operations on Wednesday, state officials in North Carolina continue to monitor fuel supply while discouraging panic buying and hoarding.

The rush to get what’s available is affecting some EMS workers in eastern North Carolina.

Most local governments have their own fuel supplies for emergency and public safety vehicles, according to the state, but Greene County has had to work with gas stations to support operations.

EM Coordinator David Lancaster said they limited travel and the number of trucks they respond with, depending on the call.

“As well as the fire service, we’ve limited number of engines on single-engine responses to certain types of calls,” Lancaster said.

There’s three EMS trucks that in total could take up at least 300 gallons of gas, according to Lancaster. To get to a nearby hospital, it takes 20 minutes to drive in either direction, so it adds up.

Lancaster said naturally, they’d deplete their own sources; Greene County has agreements with the school system, public works department and landfill to have on-site tanks that they can utilize.

But they haven’t had to do that yet as gas stations have been considerate and offering what they have left to help emergency, law enforcement and fire officials.

Greene County EMS uses a fleet system so they can go to any gas station but some stations have helped out by reaching out to them first. Lancaster says it’s a tight-knit community.

“Fortunately they have consideration for emergency services,” Lancaster said. “Which is fire, law enforcement, police, EMS, everything. Sometimes if they can retain a little bit of fuel, not a lot, cause we burn about 300 gallons a day in EMS and with your fire trucks … depends on the amount of calls that they have too.”

While not everyone can refuel, Greene County resident Erik Stevens said it’s important to prioritize EMS.

“EMS, or mail services, us mail, yeah they should be in front of the line. There’s people that need it more than others,” Stevens said.

Stevens, who’s lived in the area for more than 40 years, said he’s never seen a gas shortage like this in Greene County, which panic buying doesn’t help.

The Speedway on US-258 and another on Kingold Blvd. received a supply of gas Thursday afternoon.

“Just thinking a whole lot of people are panicking and not being too considerate toward other people,” Stevens said.

Amid hurricane preparedness, Greene County EMS continues to save lives while saving gas. Lancaster reminded the public to be patient.

“It’s hard to tell somebody they can’t purchase gas or water or anything,” Lancaster said. “But hoarding up gasoline, it hinders emergency services, people that really need the gas to rely on the coverage that we’re supposed to provide. So that just complicates things. It trickles downhill ... has a downhill effect on everyone.”

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