• 73°

N’hampton to add rescue vehicle, crew

JACKSON – Patience and persistence are virtues.

In local government, they are vital.

Northampton County Emergency Management Coordinator Ronald Storey and County Manager Wayne Jenkins are able to celebrate their persistence and patience after the adoption of the 2005-2006 fiscal year budget in the county.

Included in that budget is the addition of a third Advanced Life Support emergency crew and the purchase of a new ambulance, something the two have been working on for a number of years.

&uot;We’ve been trying to add this crew since 2001,&uot; Storey said. &uot;We pushed hard for it in 2003 and thought it was going to be a reality for the past two budget years, but it didn’t happen.&uot;

Jenkins said the Northampton County Commissioners had been pushing to get the project funded for the past two years and indicated it was the last thing removed from the previous year’s budget.

After narrowly missing the cut last year, Storey went back to the drawing board and came up with a proposal that allows the county board to fund only a portion of the cost from taxpayer funds.

The third crew funded will be mainly used for scheduled transports – a business the county hasn’t been previously involved with.

&uot;The funds are there for transports, we are just tapping into it now,&uot; Storey said. &uot;We felt it made sense to use some of that money to offset the cost.&uot;

Jenkins said he and the commissioners were pleased with the additional funding source.

&uot;This year we went to work find-tuning the plan,&uot; he said. &uot;We put together a strategy to help with the funding without putting it all on the backs of our taxpayers.&uot;

Jenkins said the creative thinking used by Storey was &uot;typical&uot; of his department heads and said he was pleased when the county’s departmental leaders were able use a solid business plan.

&uot;This has always been in the board’s goals and objectives, but this is the first time we’ve been able to put the money to it,&uot; Jenkins added.

While the crew will be available for transports, their number one duty will be serving as backup for emergency calls. Storey said this was possible because of the nature of the transport business.

&uot;If we have a transport scheduled at 10 a.m. and there is an accident at 9:30, we can send the crew out for the emergency and reschedule the transport,&uot; Storey said. &uot;Most doctors will work with us in an emergency situation.&uot;

Jenkins and Storey said they were pleased to be adding the crew and recalled the fact Emergency Management began with only two people.

&uot;At one time Ron had two employees – and he was one of them – and one vehicle,&uot; Jenkins said. &uot;Were there needs not being met? Surely. But, there was a long-range plan already being developed.&uot;

While admitting there were times he got discouraged, Storey commended the county leaders for taking their time and making the correct decision.

&uot;One thing I greatly admire about our county commissioners is they listen to you,&uot; Storey said. &uot;They understand your goals, but they think and plan where there money is going. That’s what we elected them for.&uot;

Jenkins echoed those thoughts.

&uot;Did Ronald Storey get discouraged? Yes,&uot; he said. &uot;Did I? Yes. Did the citizens deserve this? Yes. Did we get the support we needed from our elected officials? Yes. That’s how we got to this point.&uot;

After approving the crew in their budget, the county commissioners approved the purchase of a new rescue vehicle at their last meeting in August.

Storey said currently he is interviewing candidates for the vacancies and the order for the purchase of the truck has been made.

Jenkins said the work done by Storey and the county was an example of what he thought government should be about – making a plan and working to make that plan a sound financial and business decision.

He said he expects to see the county continue to make long-range goals and continue to execute them when the time is right.