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Emergency alliance promotes cooperation

July 24, 2003|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Franklin County's new Emergency Services Alliance will have voting members representing fire and emergency services and the county's 22 municipalities, its organizers said Wednesday.

More than 25 representatives from around the county met at the Rescue Hose Co. No. 1 fire house in Greencastle to draft bylaws for the alliance.

Its goal is to join emergency services with the county's municipalities to advise fire departments and ambulance squads, help recruit volunteers, help with training programs, establish cooperation between the squads, write grant applications and lobby the state legislature, said John Cook, a member of the Waynesboro Borough Council.

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Dwindling numbers of fire and ambulance service volunteers prompted organizers to create the alliance late last year.

It's becoming harder to find and train volunteers, especially emergency medical technicians, organizers said.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health's training requirements are becoming more stringent and take more hours to complete, they said.

Also, factors such as two-income families, longer job commutes and more demanding family obligations are affecting volunteerism not only in emergency services but in local government as well, they said.

Some companies in Franklin County have adequate ambulances in their squads but not enough volunteers to staff them.

All present Wednesday agreed that the time to act is now in the face of the county's growing population.

"This will be a good thing for the long haul," said Randall Negley, a Hamilton Township supervisor and a leader in the effort to get the alliance organized. He said he was satisfied with the progress Wednesday in getting the bylaws drafted.

A meeting will be scheduled in August to adopt the bylaws and elect the alliance's first officers, he said.

This will be the first such alliance of emergency services and local government in Pennsylvania, organizers have said.

Each of the county's 15 townships and seven boroughs will appoint a representative, either an elected official or private citizen, to the alliance, Negley said. All 22 municipal representatives will have a vote as will two representatives each from the county's fire chief's association, emergency services council and department of emergency services, Negley said.

Seven members at an alliance meeting will constitute a quorum, Negley said.

Representatives were present Wednesday from the boroughs of Waynesboro, Greencastle and Chambersburg; and Washington, Peters, Lurgan, Guilford, Greene, Letterkenny, St. Thomas, Metal, Quincy, South Hampton, Hamilton, Antrim and Fannett townships, plus the county's fire chiefs association, emergency services council and emergency services department.

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