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Vote disappoints Smithsburg EMS chief

April 13, 2000|By SCOTT BUTKI

The chief of Smithsburg Emergency Medical Services Inc. said Thursday he is disappointed that the Washington County Commissioners denied the company's request to be allowed to operate a rescue squad.

The County Commissioners rejected that request Tuesday by a 4-1 vote, finding that it would duplicate services already being provided by the town's fire company.

Commissioner Paul L. Swartz cast the sole dissenting vote, saying he feels there would be only a partial duplication.

It makes no sense for two companies within a few blocks of each other to both run rescue squad trucks, County Commissioner John Schnebly said.

Schnebly earlier criticized the company for spending about $30,000 on rescue equipment similar to equipment the nearby Smithsburg Fire Co. already owned and operated.

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The commissioners vote backed up the Washington County Fire and Rescue Association's decision that the Emergency Medical Services company would be violating association rules by duplicating fire company services.

Despite the vote, Sturm said the company would use the equipment, including a "jaws of life," for rescues, but would call its vehicle a "utility vehicle" rather than a "rescue squad" vehicle.

"We will still provide the service," Sturm said. He is vice president of Hadley Farms of Smithsburg, which paid for about one-third of the cost of the equipment.

Sturm appealed the association's decision to the County Commissioners in an attempt to get the right to refer to the vehicle as a rescue squad. He said that would give company personnel recognition for the training they received for the equipment.

Sturm said he had collected 700 signatures on a petition supporting the company's position but was caught off guard when the commissioners made the decision Tuesday.

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook told the company last week that it would be a few weeks before the commissioners would make a decision.

When Snook asked if the commissioners were ready to make a decision or if they wanted a few more weeks, the consensus was to vote this week.

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