Lack of funding for EMS units spotlighted

By Peggy Mackenzie

During Tuesday’s Greenbrier County Commission meeting, Commissioner Woody Hanna stated he has received a number of calls from the western end of the county concerning the response time for emergency medical service (EMS) ambulances to respond to an emergency call for help. Hanna motioned to have the commission appoint an advisory committee to study the EMS services in Greenbrier County and to advise the commission of their findings.

He said the reasons for the motion are as a result of the closure of the northern Greenbrier community EMS unit covering Renick and Frankford. The White Sulphur Springs EMS unit is covering those areas with a dispatching unit located in the industrial park at the airport. In August, he went on, the Williamsburg EMS unit closed and the Fairlea EMS is providing the service to Williamsburg, dispatching from Fairlea. And lastly, he said, over 50 percent of the county cannot be reached by an EMS unit within 30 minutes of making a 911 request.

“It seems the county has taken a step backward,” he said, recalling that 20 years ago, most of the more rural communities, such as Frankford, Rupert and Williamsburg, had their own EMS units. “The rural areas are being forgotten,” he said.

“A person could die of a heart attack before the EMS unit reaches them,” Hanna exclaimed. The situation, he said, shows a dereliction of public services and needs remedying. The motion carried unanimously.

Several members of the Fairlea EMS team were on hand during the meeting and Hanna made overtures to them, thanking them for their willingness to take on the additional responsibilities. They are all volunteers and give up to 120 hours a month to provide the much needed time and expertise to the job. Hanna said, like the rural volunteer fire departments, the EMS agencies around the county are having to shut down due to lack of funding resources to help train committed volunteers for the job.

In other business:

• Greenbrier County 911 Assistant Director Paula Brown received signing approval from the commission for a totally funded Homeland Security grant of $80,000 to stock the recently acquired mobile command vehicle, also totally funded at $205,000 by Homeland Security. The equipment will include satellite cameras and a mast to mount them to the vehicle. The mobile command vehicle has been put to use serving to immediately access to potential emergencies by being on site during the State Fair and the D.A.R.E. To Cruz Car Show.

• A consideration to remove the fiduciary commissioner handling the estate of CharlesWithrow was presented at the meeting. Commission President Mike McClung stated that normally three fiduciary commissioners serve the county, but that currently only two are in place. With the other commissioner having a conflict of interest with regard to the Withrow estate, the commission recommended tabling the appointment.

• McClung announced the resignation of former Commission President Betty Crookshanks from her 12 and a half years’ service on the Airport Authority Board. Crookshanks resigned from the board last week. He formally thanked Crookshanks and lauded her past community and county stints of service, enumerating her 12 years on the county commission, and prior to that, her years with the WV Legislature and as a public school educator.

McClung said anyone interested in sitting on the Airport Authority Board is advised to send their resume or bio to the county commissioners’ offices at the Greenbrier County Courthouse. The deadline to accept the resumes is Oct. 1 at 4:30 p.m.

• The commission approved an application and resolution for the WV Courthouse Facility Improvement Grant. Said McClung, the courthouse is an “iconic symbol,” constructed in 1837, and as the oldest working courthouse in the state, the commission is obligated to maintain it.

• Micah Labishak, development manager at Greenbrier Valley Theatre (GVT), offered up thanks to the commission for the arts and recreation funding of $50,000 given to GVT during this fiscal year.


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