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Panel does not support placing career
 EMS personnel in the Ambulance Company

Susan C. Nicol
Frederick News Post 

There is no need for career emergency medical services (EMS) personnel here at this time. That was the conclusion of an independent task force studying concerns about the delivery of EMS in the Emmitsburg area. The group was appointed last summer by the president of the Frederick County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association (FCVFRA) following growing complaints about the service provided by Emmitsburg Ambulance Co.

The issue was pushed to the front burner in July after the volunteers failed to respond to seven of eight emergencies in a 33-hour period. Ambulance crews from other jurisdictions handled the calls. Since 1998, members of Vigilant Hose Co. have voiced concern about the service. They went a step further by staffing an ambulance themselves, and requesting the county place career EMS personnel in the Emmitsburg area. Their request was denied.

Last summer, a panel was appointed to take a look at the quality and delivery of EMS, and make recommendations. The firefighters wanted the groupís report in 30 days, but the panel was given 90 days by Don Lachman, president of the county fire and rescue association. "They did not recommend a change in operations," Mr. Lachman said. "They said there was no need for paid people right now."

However, the panel said the Emmitsburg Ambulance Co. could use some help with administrative issues, including assistance with - making a budget. Mr. Lachman said the association has offered its help or guidance where the company could obtain assistance, but company officials say they don't need the hand. "Once we explained our credentials, they understood a little more said Joe Pelkey, President of Emmitsburg Ambulance Co.

Mr. Pelkey said overall the company was pleased with the report. I think it was fair," he said, "it doesn't hurt to see Your weaknesses". But the ambulance company wants the panel to take a look at Vigilant Hose Co. "They were supposed to investigate the fire company like they did us," he said. "We asked them to, and we would like them to do it."

The findings of the panel have been kept close to the vest. Members of the executive committee of the fire and rescue association agreed that Mr. Lachman would handle all inquiries. Neither the officers of Vigilant Hose nor Thurmont Community Ambulance have seen the report. Tim Clarke, Vigilant Hose president, said the company is not interested in participating in a discussion group with the ambulance company as suggested by Mr. Lach man. "We'd like to see what's in the report," Mr. Clarke said. "We are still concerned about the quality of EMS here."

Mr. Clarke said the company's request that the county put career people in Emmitsburg remains on the table. But he added that they wonít make another formal request. Terry Shook, president of Thurmont Community Ambulance, said he wasnít sure the issues have been addressed. "I havenít seen a report," he said.

In a July letter to the county fire association, Mr. Shook asked for an investigation of Emmitsburg Ambulance Co. The Thurmont Ambulance Co. was often handling emergencies when the Emmitsburg crew failed to respond.