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Conway/Severn EMS loses county funds

JACKSON – The performance of town volunteer fire departments and EMS squads in Northampton County was the topic of discussion at the Board of Commissioners meeting here Tuesday, Sept. 3 to determine who would receive their annual funding from the county.

All but the Conway/Severn EMS squad was approved.

Emergency Management Coordinator Ronnie Storey presented the information to the Board, explaining this yearly funding from the county dated back to a resolution from 1980.

“It’s something we started back in 1980 with the intent of trying to give them a little appreciation money so they can buy maybe a little piece of extra equipment,” he said.

There are currently 10 volunteer fire departments and three EMS squads operating within the county.

The allocation for the fire departments totaled $14,500 with $850 going to individual departments with a fire tax district and $3,850 to departments without one. A total of $30,000 was allocated for the EMS squads to be split equally between the three. Storey noted these funds have already been appropriated in the county’s budget.

County Manager Charles Jackson reminded the commissioners that the 1980 resolution stated that they can decide to reallocate funds from any department or squad pending a performance review.

Storey provided response totals for each fire department and EMS squad from the past year. All 10 volunteer fire departments responded to 100 percent of the calls they received. Gaston EMS responded to 93 percent of calls and Eastside EMS responded to 82 percent.

Conway/Severn EMS, however, only responded to seven percent of their calls.

“They were paged out to 1,311 calls. They only went out on 96 of them,” Storey said, noting that they generally preferred squads to respond to at least 80 percent of calls.

Commissioner Geneva Faulkner asked who responds to the unanswered calls. Storey answered that Northampton EMS covers that area, typically with the truck they have stationed in Milwaukee, but he also noted this puts more wear and tear on their own equipment.

Commissioner Kelvin Edwards asked what they could do to help the struggling squad.

Storey said they had tried to help out in the past but this was an ongoing problem which seemed to stem from a lack of manpower. He also noted the building housing the EMS squad was under foreclosure.

“I think we need a conversation with Conway (/Severn EMS),” said Board Chair Charles Tyner. “We’re not throwing them out, but if they’re gonna be in, they gotta be in.”

He suggested Storey and County Manager Jackson meet with the EMS squad soon to discuss options on what to do next.

“We do have to find a way to assist Conway (/Severn EMS),” Edwards added in agreement.

Faulkner motioned to approve funding for everyone except Conway/Severn EMS, and Edwards seconded. The vote was unanimously in favor.