Aulander Rescue disbands

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 29, 2007

WINDSOR – After 49 years of service, the Aulander Rescue Squad is no more.

Klaus Akkerman, as a representative of the squad, came before the Bertie County Commissioners at their regular meeting Monday night and announced that as of midnight Tuesday, the Aulander Volunteer Rescue Squad (AVRS), Inc. would no longer be operational.

&uot;Bertie County will have to provide emergency management services to the approximately 2100 citizens who live in the 75 square miles covered by the Aulander Squad,&uot; Akkerman stated.

He also said it was mainly due to the county withholding funds that the squad was no longer able to function.

Prior to January of this year, the AVRS answered calls full time and received $1,000 a month from the county for operating expenses. But in January, AVRS made a deal with the Lewiston-Woodville Rescue Squad where that group answered the AVRS’ night and weekend calls.

Apparently, when the county discovered this new arrangement in May, it was decided that since AVRS was only answering half of the calls, they should only receive half the amount.

&uot;They were only doing half the job they were contracted for so we had to cut their payment in half,&uot; County Manager Zee Lambs stated.

Since they’d been overpaid by $500 a month for five months, the county stopped sending checks in June and it was decided to resume payments in November at $500 a month.

However, the AVRS claims that they were not notified of this change in payment schedule and amount. They also claim they did not receive notice of the quarterly meetings of all emergency services personnel.

Bertie County Emergency Management Coordinator Rickey Freeman told the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald in a phone interview Wednesday that the meetings were held on a set schedule the second Thursday of the month at the end of each quarter.

&uot;Even though it was on a set schedule, we also sent out notices on all meetings two weeks prior to it,&uot; he stated.

AVRS denies ever receiving any notice.

At a meeting of the AVRS on August 14, its members unanimously decided to dissolve the squad.

The AVRS was the second volunteer rescue ever to be formed in the state of North Carolina.

Lamb seemed to be of the opinion that the two other functioning squads in the county could cover what was left open by AVRS.

&uot;We’ll be able to have coverage by using other squads, Lewiston and Bertie Rescue. We have two wonderful squads in those two,&uot; he said.

Chairman of the Commissioners Rick Harrell disagreed, &uot;Those two are good, but they fall way short of being able to serve all the citizens of Bertie County.&uot;

Harrell requested that Freeman do a study of the remaining squads in Bertie County and their capabilities in order to determine where to proceed from this point on.

&uot;We’re going to get information from each rescue squad – how many members, what certifications they have, how many paid workers, how many part-time, how many volunteers, how many vehicles and the condition of each, and how many calls they are averaging per month,&uot; Freeman later told the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald.

He continued, &uot;We want to get a list of their expenditures, assets for the last fiscal year and how much money they have received. All that put together will let us have a better understanding of the big picture so we can decide where to go from here.&uot;

Freeman added that the state of EMS in general has been steadily declining in recent years.

&uot;This is something that’s been going on in EMS for the last few years as far as the volunteer forces. They are getting to be fewer and fewer in number because of the increased requirements for the training,&uot; he said.