fire company emergency personnel talk merger
(11/19/2004) Emmitsburg Volunteer
Ambulance Co. officials plan to meet with Vigilant Hose Co.
personnel Sunday to discuss the ambulance company's shaky past
and uncertain future.
Volunteers said they are just trying
to stay alive while commissioners, Vigilant Hose Co.
representatives and Emmitsburg residents help decide their
Vigilant officials suggested a merger
between the two stations because of recent fail rates as high
as 30 percent by the ambulance company. A call is considered
failed if personnel are not on their way to the emergency
scene within eight minutes.
But because the company's two failed
calls occurred when paid personnel were not on duty, some
doubted the volunteers' claims.
Frank Rauschenberg, Vigilant
president, said paid staff is needed 24 hours a day, seven
days a week.
The fire company's position is that a
merger between the two stations is the best solution, saying
it "provides the best chance to achieve a 100 percent response
At a public hearing Tuesday,
Commissioner Mike Cady said he wanted the companies to find a
"I don't think there's the slight
possibility of a merger," he said.
Chief Sharer said if the companies
merge, many of his volunteers may leave, choosing not to move
to the fire station.
"There are a lot of members who have
said if we move up the street, we aren't going to be welcome
there," he said. "Our company has been in business for 50
years, and the last thing we want to see is all of a sudden we
become (Vigilant) and lose that heritage."
Both companies indicate they want
compromise. They are expected to hash out their differences
soon and form a plan of action to take to county
Commissioners President John L.
Thompson Jr. said the board would "give a great deal of weight
to any decision that both companies come to agreement on."
"A merger was talked about years ago,"
said Rick Sharer, chief of the ambulance company. "It
resurfaces every time someone says we aren't doing what we're
supposed to be doing."
But Chief Sharer said since county
commissioners voted in August to place paid personnel at the
station, the situation has improved.
Paid staff have responded to calls 24
hours a day, seven days a week from Vigilant volunteers have
run backup calls from the ambulance company, and have failed
two calls in two months, a 9-percent fail rate.
Ambulance company representatives said
volunteers could respond to night and weekend calls while paid
personnel respond to daytime calls.
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