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Ambulances risk medication shortage in Clay County

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Updated: 6/11/2013 7:46 pm
ORANGE PARK, Fla. -- It's a medical emergency in Clay County. First responders tell Action News it's becoming almost impossible to keep their rescue vehicles and ambulances stocked with vital medications.

From morphine to Zofran, we've learned a nationwide shortage is getting so bad, ambulances could soon be heading out on emergency runs without them.

"I've had type 1 diabetes since I was in the fourth grade," said Clay County resident James Hilt.

Hilt is only 16. But he knows how precious life is. He relies every day on medications to keep him alive.

"It's extremely critical for me to have the medications I need, because if I don't get them, I could go into a coma," he said.

But in Clay County, medicine like that is becoming tough to get. Emergency responders are struggling to keep their ambulances stocked with vital medications because of a nationwide shortage.

"We have not gotten to the point where we've had to do without. We've come very, very close," said Clay County Deputy Fire Chief David Motes.

Right now, Motes said they're required to shop around to find the lowest prices. But that's causing them to lose out completely.

"That supply may not be available, so they put you on a list and literally they will call you and say 'OK on this date you wanted this amount of these medications', and you have to basically say whether you want it or not right there on the phone. If you say 'I'll call you back' because you have to get some other vendors, make sure we get the lowest price because we want to do our due diligence, that drug may not be available," he said.

He has urged the county commission to waive the current regulations and allow them to buy drugs from the first supplier that has what they need.

The commission voted Tuesday to do that.

It's only a short-term fix, but for Hilt, it could save his life.

"If they have the medication in stock, it will be a life-saver for anyone who might need it," Hilt said.

The temporary waiver will expire at the end of September, unless the commission chooses to extend it.

Motes said the cost of medications has also gone up significantly because of the shortage.
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