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Healing the rescuers

CRS new leaders say they'll improve organization

CRS new leaders say they'll improve organization

November 21, 2002|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - After a major organizational shakeup at Community Rescue Service last month, new leaders said Wednesday they're working to heal the ailing ambulance company.

Four new board members were recruited to replace four who quit last month. They attended their first regular meeting Wednesday night.

CRS President Terry Gearhart said he also plans to fill three more board seats that have been vacant for the last few years.

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Gearhart said CRS tried to find people from the business community to help improve the situation at the county's busiest ambulance company.

"This is the direction we're taking to move on. We tried to stay really focused on bettering the organization," said Gearhart, who has been a CRS volunteer for 36 years.

The new board members are Tory Van Reenen, an accountant; Dave Abeles, a bank consultant; Michael Day, a lawyer; and Claire O'Connell, an associate real estate broker.

Washington County Director of Emergency Services Joseph Kroboth called the choices "excellent."

"Nonprofits many times are filled with people with expertise in fire and rescue services. Sometimes we lack that business perspective," he said.

The shakeup at CRS began last month, when the board ousted Executive Director J. Michael Nye.

Nye's departure was followed by the resignations of three other board members, Hagerstown Councilwoman Penny Nigh, Treasurer Kenneth R. Smith and former President Ronald Horn.

All said they disapproved of the way Nye was treated, with Horn calling it a "lynching party" in his letter of resignation.

The new board will face challenges, said Kroboth, who plans to meet with board members by the end of the month to review the organization's quarterly financial statements.

CRS has experienced financial difficulties in the past. In January, money problems forced CRS to lay off what amounted to one shift of employees.

"In the wake of a tighter economy everybody is feeling the pinch," Kroboth said.

New board members seemed like they were ready to get started on the job Wednesday.

"One of the most important aspects of sitting on a board is the financial aspect. I joined the board because that's what I like to do," Van Reenen said.

O'Connell also brings experience as a volunteer emergency medical technician.

"Terry (Gearhart) was interested in trying to improve things and I would like to help with that," she said.

Ambulance Chief Chris Amos said morale at the station has improved since the management turnover.

"No one in this department I have spoken to is unhappy with the changes," said Amos, a 20-year veteran of CRS.

Eight volunteers have signed up in the last month and the company plans to step up its recruitment efforts in the future.

Gearhart said the board needs to take a look at the finances and probably will conduct a routine audit before deciding what changes to make.

CRS handles about 7,000 calls a year, which is about half of all the ambulance calls in Washington County.

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