By Megan Boatwright
Eyewitness News Reporter

TRENTON, DADE COUNTY (WRCB) - The economy is forcing many counties to cut back.  By the end of the month, a North Georgia county plans to end part of its 24-hour ambulance service.

Dade County will soon have fewer ambulances available to respond to emergency calls.

The county has received 82 fewer service calls this year than last, so when county leaders found out the contract was increasing by $160,000/year they had to make a decision.

"It seems like we always cut the services that are needed the most," says Dade County resident, Ron Daniels. 

At the end of the month the County will cut back its ambulance service. 

"With the economy getting to the point it is, it affects everything," says Dade County Commissioner, Robert Goff. "It affects our ambulance service companies' business, as well as county business." 

Lifeguard provides the county ambulance service.  The company charges $100,000/year for two ambulances staffed 24 hours.  Because of the recession and fewer calls for service this year one ambulance will go from 24 hours to 12.

"The plan of action is Lifeguard will have another ambulance on its way," says Goff. 

Here's how it will work:  Between 9p.m. - 9 a.m. an ambulance will be dispatched out of Chattanooga if the 24 hour ambulance is already out, a trip that will take 18 minutes. 

Phillip Adkins is an EMT in DeKalb County, Alabama, he says "Especially in life or death situations, time is critical. EMTs call it the 'golden hour'. That's all the time we have to get the patient to life saving intervention." 

County Commissioner Robert Goff says Dade County doesn't have many overnight calls.  There's also a second back-up plan, an on-call schedule and a county-owned ambulance ready if needed.

"We do want to assure the people of Dade County we're not without service," says Goff.  "We will never be without ambulance service." 

The 911 director says he worked closely with Lifeguard, studying peak the times of day when most services calls come in.  That's how they decided when to run the 12 hour ambulance.