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Sharpsburg EMS seeking help

December 01, 1997

Sharpsburg EMS seeking help

By JULIE E. GREENE

Staff Writer

SHARPSBURG - Sharpsburg's ambulance company could be shut down if it doesn't have at least 10 emergency medical technicians by Dec. 31, according to Jay Grimes, president of the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association.

If the ambulance company is shut down, emergency services would still be provided to the area, Grimes said in a telephone interview. A temporary fix could involve emergency services personnel from companies in Boonsboro and Williamsport, he said.

It's too expensive for the association to hire paid personnel to man the Sharsburg station 24 hours a day, Grimes said.

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Members of the Sharpsburg Area Emergency Medical Services will begin going door to door with fliers this week to recruit new emergency medical technicians (EMTs), paramedics and drivers, said Sharpsburg Chief Lester Bussard. The company has four volunteer EMTs now, he said.

"We've put out a plea for help," said Bill Myers, president of the company's board of directors.

The company has been on probation since July because it has had fewer than 10 certified EMTs, the number required by the county.

With the recruiting efforts in Sharpsburg, Grimes said he still holds out hope a suspension won't be needed. The ambulance company will be evaluated at the end of December.

The ambulance company's EMT shortage could be solved with new bylaws, Town Councilman Ralph Hammond said during the council's regular monthly meeting on Monday night.

There are about 15 EMTs at the Sharpsburg Volunteer Fire Co. who don't respond to ambulance calls because they have no say in the ambulance company's administration, Hammond said. That could change if new bylaws were approved granting every member a vote, he said.

Only officers can vote now, said board member Maxine Campbell.

The proposed bylaws must be approved by the ambulance company's members, Campbell said. The next membership meeting is Monday, although Campbell said she did not know if the proposed bylaws would come up for a vote.

Hammond said he wanted state, county and local emergency services officials to meet with the mayor and council.

The ambulance company has been paying about $12,000 a month since Oct. 1 for four paid personnel, so two are always on duty, Bussard said. They include two emergency medical technicians and two paramedics.

As a basic life support ambulance company, Sharpsburg also needs at least 10 EMTs to pass a state voluntary inspection, said Dick Mettetal, state regional emergency services administrator.

If the company fails the voluntary inspection, it can still operate, Mettetal said. But, the "seal of excellence" on the ambulance would have to be removed, he said.

The ambulance company has had a rough year, culminating in August when its former chief took a month-long leave of absence and the county association assumed daily control.

Larry Myers would not say why he resigned as chief on Nov. 17. Myers had been chief for the last 13 years.

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