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County In Heart Of Eclipse Path Beefs Up Ambulance Service

File photo of the ''Oregon Pioneer'' sculpture that sits atop the Oregon State Capitol in Salem.
File photo of the ''Oregon Pioneer'' sculpture that sits atop the Oregon State Capitol in Salem.

Oregon's capital city and the surrounding countryside are expected to be among the top destinations for eclipse watchers in Oregon. The expected influx of visitors has led local officials to beef up their emergency services for the event.

Marion County straddles I-5 and is the closest point to Portland along the path of totality. Visitors from all over the world are expected to flock to Salem and the rural communities that surround it. County officials say it's a guess as to how many people will show up, but they're planning for an extra 100,000-to-500,000 people.

And that potentially means a sharp increase in the need for emergency services.

"We've deployed across the county about a 40 percent increase in the number of ambulances that will be available,” said Shawn Baird of Woodburn Ambulance Service, which helps coordinate Marion County's ambulance system.

Most of the extra ambulances will be units that normally wouldn't be on call, but the county is spending $18,000 to base two extra ambulances in a rural area that normally has limited emergency services.

Baird said a chief concern is making sure ambulances can get through the anticipated traffic jams. 

Copyright 2017 Northwest News Network

Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.