Eastside threatens lawsuit

Published 9:09 am Thursday, December 1, 2011

WOODLAND — An Eastside EMS representative says the non-profit organization may file a lawsuit against the town of Woodland.

Susan Joyner, commander of the newly formed Eastside EMS, said the town is withholding ambulances and benevolent funds from the non-profit organization.

Eastside EMS membership includes 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.

Eastside recently requested a franchise from Northampton County in order to provide emergency medical services in the southeastern portion of the county. That request was approved pending legal review.

A point of contention between Eastside and town officials is the Woodland Rescue Squad Benevolent Fund Incorporated that was set up in 1991 to hold funds for rescue entity. That account is now frozen until it can be determined who owns the funds.

According to Joyner that fund includes donations and funds from EMS services. She added much of the equipment, including one of the ambulances, were paid for out of the benevolent fund.

She also disputed the purchase of the defibrillator, which she said was funded by a matching grant from the Department of Insurance and Woodland’s portion of the match came out of the benevolent fund. Joyner said many items have been purchased with the benevolent fund over the years, all of which she has invoices and receipts.

“We were at a point in trying to negotiate with the town board,” she said.

According to Joyner, she and Lisa Collier, Eastside EMS lieutenant, were placed on the Woodland Town Commissioners’ Oct. 8 agenda to negotiate with town officials. However, on Oct. 3, Joyner said they were notified that they had been removed from the agenda.

As for the alleged missing items from the EMS building, Joyner said Eastside does not have them.

“We’re not in possession of them, they are all in storage,” she said. Joyner did not specify where the items were in storage.

Joyner said the group’s attorney has advised to set an amount to sue the town rather than trying to obtain the vehicles as they both have a lot of mileage on them.

Joyner said Eastside is hesitant to do it, but would give the town one more chance to negotiate.

“We don’t want to sue the town,” she said. “If they do not negotiate, we will pursue that.”

Joyner added when Eastside does set up its operations, they will not be located in Woodland.

“I think it’s a crying shame there are two ambulances sitting (unused) in Woodland,” she said.