PARRISH -- Manatee County Emergency Medical Services is asking for a new ambulance, the county's 19th, to be based in fast-growing Parrish.
Can't happen soon enough, Parrish residents said Wednesday.
The lack of infrastructure in Parrish is "shocking" considering all the homes the Manatee County Commission is approving for the North River area, said Whitney Watson, owner of North River Hair & Nails. "We are kind of the stepchild of the county and we always have been."
More than 23,000 homes are already approved or are pending approvals in the North River area, according to county estimates.
Manatee County EMS now operates 18 ambulances, none in Parrish. The closest is in Ellenton.
A growing population and increasing demand on EMS makes it important to better serve the Parrish area, Public Safety Director Bob Smith told county commissioners Tuesday.
Parrish Fire Department offers basic life support with its emergency medical technicians and paramedics, Fire Chief Mike Johnson said Wednesday.
"Obviously, I think it would be wonderful if we could get an ambulance in Parrish. The community is growing by leaps and bounds," Johnson said. "If the unit at Col
ony Cove is on call, then it's a delay in getting an ambulance here. We don't have the capability of administering drugs or the level of expertise that the county EMS has."
Roger Triplett, owner of Green Seasons Nursery, noted the irony of allowing an avalanche of new homes before infrastructure is in place to serve thousands of new residents.
"We don't have all the support we need for a vibrant community. But my gosh they are going to dump the homes on us," Triplett said. "Yes, I think we definitely need an ambulance, but good luck getting the county to pay for it."
Faced with all the projected growth, Parrish Pastor Terry Cary said the county doesn't have a choice about putting an ambulance in his community.
"I think it's necessary," Cary said.
Added resident Mike Euga: "When you have 10,000 more people living here, plus all the new traffic when the Fort Hamer Bridge opens, an ambulance is needed."
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter @jajones1.