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Interim emergency medical services approved to service Fairplay area

March 22, 2013|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com
  • Fairplay Volunteer Fire Company
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

With the Fairplay fire company out of service, a plan spearheaded by Sharpsburg Area EMS has been approved by the Washington County Vol. Fire & Rescue Association to provide interim emergency medical services to that coverage area, association President Dale Hill said Friday.

Hill said the proposal, unanimously passed by WCVFRA membership during a meeting Thursday night, would call for a Sharpsburg EMS ambulance and a corresponding chase vehicle to respond to calls for service in the Fairplay area.

Some logistics of the EMS plan still need to be worked out, but Hill said the chase vehicle would provide basic life support, and respond possibly from an area residence or from the Washington County Agricultural Education Center on Sharpsburg Pike, where the county’s Division of Emergency Services has secured a room for responders who don’t live in the immediate area.

“It’s the same coverage that Fairplay would have provided out of their station for those calls down in that area,” he said. “It’s kind of a joint effort by the four surrounding fire companies and four surrounding EMS companies.”

All county fire and EMS departments were represented at the meeting that took place at Smithsburg Vol. Fire Co., including delegates from the Fairplay Fire Co., Hill said.

The county Board of Commissioners in July 2012 voted to suspend Fairplay because of its 26 percent rate of failing to respond to calls in a timely manner or, in some cases, failing to respond.

A task force formed by the commissioners came up with more than 30 recommendations designed to have the company reinstated. One of those recommendations called for Fairplay to remove its current administration before it could be reinstated. The company refused.

In January, the commissioners voted to no longer recognize, fund or provide in-kind services to the Fairplay fire company. The commissioners at that time asked the Division of Emergency Services to come up with a plan to provide ambulance service to the Fairplay area.

Although Fairplay is no longer recognized by county government, the company is still a voting member within the WCVFRA, Hill said.

Fire coverage of the Fairplay area will remain as it has been since Fairplay was first suspended, Hill said, with departments in Sharpsburg, Funkstown, Williamsport and Boonsboro continuing to serve as first responders.

Hill commended the work by the county’s “great core” of volunteers, especially in their efforts to devise a plan for bringing extra first-responder coverage to Fairplay.

“I just think the county has a great asset in the volunteers that really care about the citizens in the community, and everybody is trying to pitch in to provide coverage at a time when Fairplay has been taken out of service,” he said.

Hill said he plans to notify county officials about the association’s intent to implement the EMS plan, and hopes it can be formally put in motion sometime next week with minimal or no start-up costs.

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