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Volunteer Emergency Services meet to
 discuss what to do with the county ambulance and career staff

Frederick News Post

 (11/10) Representatives of the Vigilant Hose Co. (Co. 6) and the Emmitsburg Volunteer Ambulance Co. (Co. 26) met Wednesday night in Emmitsburg to discuss their positions on what should be done with the county ambulance and career staff now housed at Co. 6.

Emergency services in Emmitsburg are separate, with fire services housed at Co. 6 and ambulance services housed at Co. 26. The six members of the county-paid staff were being housed at Vigilant Hose Co„ in part because of space limitations at Co. 26.

The ambulance company wants those six employees to move to its building.

"Our bunk room is in place, we have revamped our bylaws... we are more or less waiting on a decision," said Rick Sharer, chief of Co. 26.

Walter Murray, director of the Division of Fire and Rescue Services, will ultimately decide if the 24-hour paid staff will be moved to Co. 26 or stay where they are.

Vigilant Hose Co. representatives said Wednesday they would prefer to merge the companies, rather than shift around staff.

The representatives brought up concerns they have with the ambulance company's housing and bathroom facilities and administrative organization.

Frank Davis, spokesperson for Vigilant Hose Co., said he was concerned about the privacy of the bathroom and shower facilities at the ambulance company.

As in many fire stations in Frederick County, the general public would use the same bath-room at Co. 26 for fundraisers and bingo games as EMS staff. Right now at Co. 6 the career staff have private apartment-like facilities that the public does not use.

Chief Sharer said since the career staff are paid by the county, they must go wherever the county places them, regardless of bathroom facilities or sleeping arrangements, which vary by station.

Vigilant Hose also wants Co. 26 to rewrite its bylaws and operating procedures, which have not changed in more than 10 years.

Chief Sharer said they have been rewritten and are at the county attorney's office, awaiting approval. The company's one-, five- and 10-year plans are also in place, he said, which includes plans to start construction on a new building as early as December. .

"I think the fact that our board of directors hasn't changed shows stability," he said.

Vigilant Hose said it was concerned the ambulance's company's plans for a new building could hurt Co. 26 financially. Costs to maintain the new $1 million-building would draw funds away from everyday operations.

Another option the fire company suggested Wednesday was to merge the two companies — a topic that has been brought up several times in the past by one company or the other and denied by the other company for various reasons.

Mr. Davis said a merger would solve the ambulance company's problems with answering calls on time and would save the county money because it wouldn't be funding two heating and electric bills, as well as insurance on two buildings.

"We would use each other's resources and operate as one department," he said. "We really believe this is the best option for the county taxpayers and in the best interest of everyone involved."

' Chief Sharer said he would present the idea of a merger to the ambulance company's board of directors Thursday, and to the company members at their meeting on Nov 27.

"We'll map out the pros and cons and go from there," he said.

Chip Jewell, director of Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services, said a merger is not something that would happen, quickly — probably not before Mr. Murray makes his decision.

"The question (tonight) is not: 'Do we want to merge' but 'do we want to proceed to discuss it?'" Mr. Jewell said. "It's not an overnight yes or no decision, it's a `Let's move forward."'

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