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Smithsburg to sell utility vehicle

October 15, 2000

Smithsburg to sell utility vehicle



By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writer


SMITHSBURG - About seven months after Smithsburg Emergency Medical Services was denied a request to put its utility vehicle and its equipment into service as a rescue squad, the company has decided to sell the vehicle.

Monroe Taranto, SEMS board president said an ambulance would be more useful to the company because utility vehicles can't transport patients and the vehicle handles poorly in the mountainous area.

The company has received a lot of interest in the vehicle and should have no difficulty selling it, he said. He said he expects to get around $50,000 in the sale.

The company will sell some of the equipment on the vehicle but maintain its "jaws of life," device which is used to extricate victims from mangled vehicles.

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A new ambulance will cost SEMS $200,000. , which will be funded by additional fundraisers, he said. Taranto said SEMS was in sound financial condition.

SEMS went on 650 calls last year and Taranto expects the amount to grow as the community's population does, he said.

With an additional ambulance, SEMS would be able to send two ambulances out on calls and have a third covering the station as required, he said.

Presently, if SEMS sends two ambulances out on calls, a neighboring company's ambulance is needed to cover the station, he said.

The ambulance company received criticism by The Washington County Commissioners for purchasing the utility vehicle and outfitting it with $30,000 worth of equipment.

Sturm said then the purchases were made to upgrade its service to the 3,000 households in its coverage area.

He wanted the right to refer to the vehicle as a rescue squad because it would give company personnel recognition for the training they received for the equipment, he said.

SEMS's request was originally turned down by the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association. Officials said they could not allow SEMS's vehicle to be put into operation because it would be violating association rules by duplicating services already offered by Smithsburg Volunteer Fire Company.

The fire company also has a "jaws of life."

Undaunted, Sturm appealed to the Washington County Commissioners, who upheld the Association's decision and admonished the ambulance company.

Sturm said following the County Commissioners April vote that 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.

Taranto said SEMS needed the rescue squad because the company covers three times as many calls and its coverage area is three times as large as Smithsburg Fire Company's.

"I don't view it as a duplication of services. I view it as being ready," he said.

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