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Paid staff join Volunteer Ambulance Co.

By James Reda
Frederick News-Post

(11/16) Six paid Frederick County fire and rescue personnel who have been helping Emmitsburg Volunteer Ambulance Co. since last year will finally be housed there.

The personnel were stationed in Emmitsburg last year because volunteer ambulance crews were having trouble answering all calls. However, the ambulance company building didn't have enough room for them, so the career crew was stationed at The Vigilant Hose Co. and assigned a spare county ambulance.

With a new addition, the ambulance company building is now ready for occupancy.

Walter Murray, director of the Frederick County Division of Fire and Rescue Services, said the six would "still provide the same level of service but from a different address."

He told the county commissioners of his decision Tuesday afternoon during a meeting between the commissioners and the division of fire and rescue.

Mr. Murray said placing the career staff with the ambulance company would allow the ambulance they were using at The Vigilant Hose Co. to be placed back in the county's reserve of spare ambulances.

Emmitsburg Volunteer Ambulance Co. Chief Rick Sharer hadn't heard officially Tuesday after-noon that the move had been approved earlier in the day. He said he was pleased the career personnel would finally be stationed with the ambulance company.

Mr. Murray said the ambulance company would not be treated any differently than other county fire companies. This means the career ambulance personnel will be the first crew out on any call to the company, and if they are on site and not needed as medical technicians, they can act as firefighters with the fire crews on scene if needed.

Mr. Sharer said this is not unexpected or unreasonable. He served in a combined career/volunteer company when he was younger and said, "It worked very well. It may take us a while to get used to it, but I'm sure it will work well for us, too."

Commissioner Mike Cady said, "I'm just very happy for the ambulance company that they're made whole again and service for the ambulances will be coming out of one house."

Mr. Sharer said his volunteers have been doing much better answering calls this year.

"When we asked for help, our fail rate was 30 percent," Mr. Sharer said. "From Jan. 1, 2005, through September, our fail rate was 4 percent."

He said the volunteer company got six new emergency medical service graduates in May, and the officers — including Mr. Sharer — are signing up more on the duty roster.

"I won't ask somebody to do what I won't do," Mr. Sharer said.

Mr. Sharer expects the volunteer and career crews to combine once he and Mr. Murray have planned the work schedules.

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