Update on Essex County Resque Squad
County, rescue squad come to an agreement
Northern Neck News
The dispute between Essex County and the Tappahannock Volunteer Rescue Squad came to an amicable conclusion this week after the two parties agreed to work together to provide emergency services to area residents.
"We are excited about this," said TVRS President Kathy Cochran in an interview last week. "We are trying to meet in the happy middle."
The trouble began brewing when the county became increasingly nervous that paid EMS transporter Lifecare would be leaving the area.
"Since they had recently lost their contract with the local hospital we were afraid that they would leave the area and we would be left without coverage," said Essex County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bud Smith, Jr., adding that TVRS only covers approximately 25 percent of current calls.
The board began looking at alternate means of providing coverage, including having a paid rescue squad housed at TVRS's current location. However, initial contracts between the county and the 70-year-old organization quickly disintegrated.
"The first contract was horrible," Cochran said. "They told us that if we didn't sign it they were going to pull our charter."
A resolution came only after the hard work of both citizens and board members, Cochran said.
"[Supervisor] Angelo Stevens was great. He really was nice and understood our concerns," Cochran said, adding that TVRS members flooded media outlets and passed out flyers and petitions to try to save their organization.
"I think about 99 percent of the public was on our side," she said. "That could be what has gotten the board to work with us."
According to preliminary copies of the contract obtained by the Northern Neck News, the TVRS will work in concert with the new, paid rescue squad to provide continuous coverage to all residents of Essex County.
In return for providing use of their ambulances and headquarters, the county has agreed to pay all "reasonable costs and expenses of the operation of the EMS organization."
For Cochran, the promise of financial assistance from the county comes as a relief.
"We have been on our own for four years," she said. "We have relied on donations but we are getting low on funds."
Cochran added that the TVRS would still keep its name, run its own calls and continue to seek out federal grants.
Smith said that he was pleased at the outcome of the contract discussions.
"There have been a lot of false things on the street lately and I hope this ends that," he said. "We just want to provide the best service to the county at the cheapest rates possible."
TVRS attorney Greg Cassis, of the firm Crowgey, Grossman and Cassis, believes that the agreement would be beneficial to all parties involved.
"Everyone is very hopeful that this will be a positive development for the rescue squad and the citizens of the county," Cassis said. "I think a combined system is a better system than an exclusively paid and in some ways an exclusively volunteer system."
Blake Byrd, a TVRS spokesman and training officer said that he expects the contracts to be signed by Jan. 1, 2011.
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