Commissioners halt rescue squad funds

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 22, 2006

WINTON – At Monday’s Hertford County Board of Commissioners meeting, County Manager Loria Williams informed the board of her intentions to dispatch checks to the county’s volunteer rescue squads.

Collectively, the board informed her that she should keep those funds in the county’s checkbook for the time being.

Chairman Curtis Freeman was clear on why he did not want Williams to forward any funds to certain emergency services volunteer organizations.

&uot;The volunteer services here have done nothing to suggest we should continue to include them in our budget,&uot; Freeman said. &uot;Most of them do not even respond to calls.&uot;

At the Nov. 6 county commissioners meeting the board voted unanimously approve all existing emergency service franchises for operation as ambulance providers within Hertford County.

The franchises that were approved by the board were, Aulander Rescue Squad, Ahoskie Volunteer Rescue Squad, Bertie Ambulance Service, Winton Rescue Squad and East Care of Greenville.

Murfreesboro Volunteer Rescue Squad, Coastal Medical Transport, White Oak Medical Transport, Preferred Medical Transport and AmbuMed NC Inc. of Kinston did not receive approval of the board for franchise status for the coming year.

Four of the organizations that did not receive the board’s endorsement were mailed correspondence informing them that their franchise requests had been denied because of a lack of demonstrated need.

Murfreesboro Volunteer Rescue Squad was informed that their application had been denied due to a prolonged period of inactivity.

In October of this year, the Murfreesboro Town Council addressed the status of the volunteer rescue squad that occupies property owned by the town of Murfreesboro.

Murfreesboro has not included the volunteer rescue squad in its budget for the past two years.

&uot;They are not answering the telephone at their published number,&uot; Murfreesboro Mayor Lynn Johnson said in October. &uot;I’m really not sure what their status is.&uot;

Volunteer rescue squads that service Hertford County’s citizens receive a monthly stipend of $500 from the county.

The funds are allocated in the County Manager’s yearly budget report.

Williams said she understood the concern of the commissioners.

&uot;There have been instances where volunteer services appear to be selective in which calls they want to respond to,&uot; Williams said. &uot;When an organizations makes a choice not to respond to calls, then we need to evaluate the need to have them as part of our EMS family.&uot;

&uot;We are six months into our yearly budget and we still do not know the status of the Murfreesboro ambulance service.&uot; Williams added.

The board asked Williams to get in contact with the organizations in question in order to present the commissioners with a final report on the status of all volunteer services in the region.

&uot;We don’t want people choosing who they want to respond to,&uot; Freeman. &uot;We’re talking about people’s lives.&uot;