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Cheaper ambulance plan passed

February 24, 1999|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A scaled-down plan for paid ambulance service in the county was approved Tuesday night in an attempt to allay concerns that an earlier proposal was too costly.

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The Jefferson County Ambulance Authority had been considering a 24-hour ambulance station in the county that would have required about $1.2 million from Jefferson County taxpayers during the first two years.

Although the Jefferson County Commissioners had not acted on the plan, there was concern in the community that it was too expensive, said authority President Steve McKinney.

In place of the $1.2 million plan, the authority voted to accept a new plan from the volunteer ambulance companies that would cost about $475,000 for the first year.

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Instead of 24-hour service, the new plan would only have paid staff working eight hours, probably during the day, said Don Clendening, president of the Independent Fire Company.

The proposal would put a medic and an emergency medical technician at Independent Fire Company in Ranson and an emergency medical technician at the other three departments: Shepherdstown Fire Department, Friendship Fire Department in Harpers Ferry and Blue Ridge Mountain Fire Department.

The plan also calls for a 24-hour "chase car," which would be operated by a medic that would respond anywhere in the county where help is neeeded.

Volunteer ambulance crews will respond to calls after hours, and individual volunteers will be paid $10 per call.

Paid personnel will be paid between $10 an hour and $12.50 an hour based on expertise, according to the plan.

The paid staff would use ambulances from volunteer companies.

The proposal passed by the authority can be expanded to offer 24-hour service.

"We think the funding we are asking for is very realistic," said Clendening.

The proposal now goes to the commissioners for consideration.

County officials have been working for about six years to start a paid ambulance service after volunteers said they were having trouble responding to a growing number of calls. The most difficult time is during the day, when many volunteers are out of the county working other jobs.

County officials proposed a $2.2 bond issue last year to set up a paid ambulance service, but voters rejected the plan in last year's general election.

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