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Longtime ambulance chief stepping down in Shepherdstown

August 17, 2007|By DON AINES

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Doug Pittinger, the ambulance chief of the Shepherdstown Fire Department for about the past 13 years, submitted his resignation this week "in protest of the perception that the Fire Department does not fully support the emergency medical services (EMS) program," according to a department statement.

Assistant Chief Leslie Simpson will serve as acting chief until an election in September, said Dave Donohue, a firefighter, paramedic and the public information officer for the department. That person will serve out the remainder of Pittinger's two-year term, which expires in December, at which time another election will be held, Donohue said.

Pittinger's resignation is effective Sept. 1, according to the department statement. Pittinger will continue to serve as a paramedic, Donohue said.

The ambulance chief might even be spending more time as a paramedic, having decided to relinquish his administrative duties, Donohue said.

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"The EMS chief is a very paperwork intensive job," he said.

Telephone messages for Pittinger and Fire Department President Andrew Arnold were not returned Thursday night.

Arnold "agrees that EMS is in need of additional funds and responders, but cautions that the entire organization is stretched thin," the statement read. Arnold commended efforts by the members of the volunteer department "to provide financial and administrative support as well as respond to emergencies and perform other public functions," according to the statement.

In the statement, Arnold noted the department has recently purchased two new ambulances and taken other measures to improve the service and its response time.

The resignation of Pittinger is not a matter of bad blood between him and Arnold, Donohue said.

"They both have their jobs to do and they both understand everyone is swamped," he said.

Due to increased fundraising needs, increasing call volumes due to growth in the region and "minimal government support," the statement called for more members of the community to volunteer to serve with the department.

"Members of the department fill a variety of roles from support and fundraising to emergency response," according to the statement. The department provides training for most positions and offers additional benefits to members, it read.

Donohue said their are about 80 volunteers with the department, about 40 of which are active.

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