Jackson Rescue terminated

Published 8:26am Tuesday, August 5, 2014

JACKSON – One of Northampton County’s oldest rescue squads is facing demise.

Following a closed session at their regularly scheduled Monday meeting, the Northampton County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to terminate Jackson Rescue Squad’s franchise within 60 days. In the meantime, the squad’s franchise will be suspended immediately. The latter becomes effective as soon as the attorney to the commissioners sends a letter to the Jackson Rescue Squad, advising them of the board’s decision.

The commissioners had been closely monitoring Jackson Rescue’s performance over a period of time.

“When they came before us just recently we warned them about their falling response numbers and that those numbers had to improve or we faced no other option than to revoke their franchise,” said Commission Chairman Robert Carter on Monday afternoon following the closed session.

“We saw no improvement in those numbers during the 2013-14 fiscal year, as a matter of fact there was a decline over the previous budget year’s numbers. It was the consensus of the board to no longer fund the Jackson Rescue Squad,” Carter added.

According to numbers provided by the county, Jackson Rescue Squad was dispatched to 954 calls from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014, but responded on just 29 occasions. That compares to 944 calls and 90 responses the previous year.

Carter stated that Chuck Joyner, the county’s EMS Director, has been advised by the board to re-route the vehicles operated by the county’s other three rescue squads – Conway-Severn, Eastside (Rich Square), and Gaston – to help handle rescue calls in the Jackson area. That area also benefits from having Northampton County EMS (a full-time paid rescue squad) located on the outskirts of Jackson.

“The Jackson area will be covered; the county will make sure the citizens of that area can call 9-1-1 and have a rescue squad vehicle dispatched to their location,” Carter stated.

Northampton County Manager Kim Turner said the decision to force Jackson Rescue to cease operations did not come overnight.

“Mr. Joyner along with myself and the county manager before me had worked with Jackson Rescue Squad officials  for years in an effort to have them get their squad performing at the levels expected,” Turner said. “Even when they missed last year’s deadline to apply for county funding, the commissioners still worked with them to resolve their issues. They wanted to see Jackson Rescue survive, but the squad’s (response) numbers kept falling.”

Turner added that due to Jackson Rescue’s operations franchise being revoked, the coverage areas of the other three squads will be re-drawn.

“We have to cover Jackson,” she noted. “Yes, we have Northampton EMS here, but we do not want to tie up a paramedic level truck to answer a basic call. Once Jackson’s franchise is officially terminated, the rescue coverage areas of the other three squads will be equally re-drawn as soon as possible.”

Following the closed session, the Commissioners also voted unanimously to disperse the funding that was allocated for Jackson Rescue Squad evenly to the other squads that will be responding to Jackson’s response area.

As far as the call volumes for the other three rescue squads during 2013-14, Gaston led the way with 1,519 calls and 1,254 responses. Eastside EMS was dispatched on 1,119 occasions and responded to 1,065. Conway-Severn had 695 calls and 459 responses.

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