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High gas prices are hitting emergency service providers hard

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

Commuters aren't the only ones feeling the pain of gas prices. First responders are also spending a lot more.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And it's hitting small-town budgets really hard. Sheriff Joel Ellifritz (ph) in Mineral County, W.Va., says they were caught off guard.

FORREST ELLIFRITZ: We probably figured, you know, up to $3, a little over $3 a gallon average, but nobody's seen it going up this high.

MARTIN: They've tried to cut costs by reassigning officers so they don't have to drive as far.

ELLIFRITZ: I think we're still providing, you know, the necessary patrols and stuff. We're just - a difference on how we're doing it.

MARTINEZ: Joel Fey is an EMS manager in Trumansburg, N.Y. He says they decided to cut the engines on ambulances while waiting for calls, which means also powering down refrigerators and heaters to store medication. And Fey says that's not ideal.

JOEL FEY: That electricity needs to be there. Those medications need to be at temperature. And if they're not, they need to be discarded and replaced.

MARTIN: He also worries the rising costs will put a burden on local taxpayers.

FEY: Increase in cost to us may end up causing an increase to our tax base, which is not something I think any of us want by any means.

MARTINEZ: But Fey says they're still committed to getting the job done.

FEY: The bottom line is we need to answer our calls. How we do that - we will cross that bridge when we need to. We need to be able to provide that care for our community.

MARTIN: And they have to do so no matter how high gas prices go.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE SIX PARTS SEVEN'S "ALREADY ELSEWHERE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.