ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. -- $600,000 is the magic number for Pasquotank and Camden County's Emergency Medical Services.

Without that money in the budget, EMS Director Jerry Newell says it could mean serious consequences for response times during emergencies.

The budget shortfall is a result of a smaller contribution from the Albermarle Hospital, now leased by Sentara.

Newell says emergency calls, one of their big money makers, have also been down.

To make up for the loss, he may have to cut his staff in half and it could also mean fewer ambulances on the road.

'If we reduce staff and we reduce ambulances you're going to have people waiting on emergency medical care.'

Pasquotank County Manager Rodney Bunch says the counties don't expect to take a route that cuts EMS in half, but he acknowledged that the money still has to come from somewhere. This could include the general fund or even a tax increase for county residents.

'Things are going to pick back up and we will get stronger again,' Bunch said.

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