ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. – In 2018, taxpayers voted to give the St. Charles County Ambulance District $70 million for equipment and facilities. Are the taxpayers getting their money’s worth?

Deputy Chief Jeremey Hollrah and Lt. Aaron Parker said the money has been put to good use.

For example, the SCCAD purchased 51 power stretchers to replace older models. The price tag? $3.1 million.

The deputy chief said the new equipment makes backbreaking work a little easier.

“Years ago, you had to manually lift the stretcher. The paramedic was taking the brunt of the weight while they were loading it, causing a lot of injuries. Back injuries, leg injuries, and long-term effects for the paramedics,” Hollrah said. “Years ago, when we started seeing these mechanical lifting devices, we reduced a lot of injuries to the paramedics, which gave us the opportunity to really extend their careers, reduce a lot of work comp cases, and long-term effects from those, which really extends the paramedics careers.”

The SCCAD got a $240,000 credit for trading in its old equipment.

The crews who use the new power stretchers could not be happier.

“And you do what you can to keep yourself physically fit and in physically good shape,” Parker said. “But if you’re constantly lifting a heavy amount of weight at all hours of the day and night, the chances of you getting hurt are increased, so this is something that allows us not to hold that on themselves to pick up heavy patients!”

The district has invested heavily in an ambulance remount program. Instead of buying a new ambulance, a new chassis is fitted to the old ambulance top.

Hollrah said it’s proven to be a significant money saver.

“Just this year alone, we’re saving almost $900,000, that we can put back in the future budget and do more projects like this,” he said.

Besides the stretchers, taxpayers also paid for high-tech ventilators that enable ambulances to provide better care on the move. The district purchased 40 devices for $751,653.

Additional funds were used to build several new ambulance stations, as well as the SCCAD’s headquarters.