Cumberland Emergency Responders Plead For Resources

Published 2:45 pm Tuesday, April 14, 2015

CUMBERLAND — During a Public Hearing held on April 7, the Cumberland community voiced its concern regarding the lack of funding for the County’s emergency medical services (EMS).

Half of those who spoke during the hearing requested greater funding for EMS needs which included a new ambulance for the Cartersville Rescue Squad, a new facility for the Cartersville Volunteer Fire Department, and a new tanker for the Randolph Volunteer Fire Department.

Regarding the Cartersville Rescue Squad’s current ambulance, squad member Jean Dunavin stated that the vehicle “should have been put into reserve status in 2008 and put out of service in 2013.” Dunavin said the vehicle is “a little hazardous” due to unstable moving conditions that make it difficult to provide proper patient care. The ambulance has been in service for 17 years and sports 130,000 miles on the odometer (against National Fire & Protection Agency standards).

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The Cartersville VFD building, according to volunteers who spoke, is no longer suited to the needs of the community, can no longer house the company’s equipment, and is a strain on the two businesses with which it shares a parking lot.

Volunteer firefighter Gene Shores explained that the company can no longer use the front part of the building due to the height of the trucks exceeding the height of the access doors; the company is therefore housing three trucks in a part of the building with only two access doors.

“The biggest source of income for Cumberland County is property taxes,” Pam Pleasants, also a member of CVFD, stated in reference to the estimated 8.3 million dollars in property tax revenue. Pleasants claimed that it is essential for the County to “protect the very property that they are paying taxes on.”

Volunteer firefighter Danny Lightfoot gave the board an estimated cost of $630,000-640,000 for the proposed brick-front facility, which he states comes in far below the $1.2-1.4 million cost of the new fire facility at Fork Union. After informing the board what the company has done to reduce costs, Lightfoot said, “We’ve done all we can do. We need your help.”

In response to CVFD’s need for a new facility, board member Kevin Ingle responded that emergency services fundraising is a distinct possibility. Ingle asked the EMS companies in need to “work with us and we’ll work with you to find a way, whether through government or private sector” to be able to meet the needs presented.

Randolph VFD Captain Dan Pempel claimed that Randolph has tried “for five years to get a new tanker” as the company’s 1976 truck has become unreliable. The tanker is a coin toss—sometimes it will start and sometimes it will not—and has been towed several times.

While a new tanker for Randolph is listed on the County’s Capital Improvement Program, no action has been taken to fund any of the County’s improvement needs as yet. The Board is expected to make a decision at the Board of Supervisors meeting on April 14.