Eastside EMS issue unresolved

Published 8:54 am Tuesday, November 29, 2011

WOODLAND — With the formation of Eastside EMS comes questions of who owns what equipment and funds that were once used by the now defunct Woodland EMS.

During last week’s Northampton County Board of Commissioners’ meeting, the questions were raised regarding equipment, trucks and a benevolent fund that were utilized by Woodland EMS.

Eastside EMS, a newly formed non-profit organization, is composed of former members of Woodland EMS. The latter was dissolved July 1 by the town after the department’s budget ran more than $60,000 into the red.

According to Woodland Mayor Jay Jenkins the two ambulances that were once operated by the former Woodland EMS are titled to the town.

Jenkins said in 2005, in his first term as mayor, it was learned one of the ambulances did not have a title and therefore no legal license or insurance.

“We had to have a title put on that truck,” he said.

As for the other ambulance, Jenkins also believes that is also titled to the town.

The Woodland Rescue Squad Benevolent Fund Incorporated was first created in 1991, according to Jenkins. In 2010, when EMS briefly became a municipal department, the town took over that account and the financial books. Jenkins said the fund is a mixture of donations and funds paid by the county for EMS services.

Jenkins said the benevolent fund has now been frozen until it can be determined who it belongs to, but that task may prove difficult.

“The money in the bank would be extremely hard to determine if it’s benevolent (funds) or town money,” he said.

Jenkins also spoke about medical equipment that has gone astray.

“I didn’t see them take anything, but we are missing a defibrillator, radios, pagers and a gurney,” he said.

Jenkins said some of the equipment was purchased by Woodland EMS, but according to the Department of Insurance the defibrillator belongs to the town.

Charles Vaughan, town attorney, agreed with Jenkins. He said the defibrillator was purchased with public grant funds.

Vaughan said Hertford County attorney Chuck Revelle is reviewing the franchise and the application submitted by Eastside EMS for Northampton County.

Vaughan, who serves as legal counsel for the county, recused himself from the matter at the last Northampton County Commissioners’ meeting due to his work with the town of Woodland as their attorney.

“He (Revelle) will see how it fits into the ordinance and give an opinion to the commissioners,” Vaughan said.

At their last meeting the Northampton Commissioners agreed to grant a franchise to Eastside EMS pending legal review.

On Thursday, a new mayor and new town commissioners will be sworn in for their public office duties in Woodland. However, Jenkins, who did not seek reelection, said he will continue to follow the issue.

“As a citizen of Woodland I will be very concerned,” he said.