EMS set as department

Published 1:07 pm Thursday, September 1, 2016

Cumberland County now has an emergency management services (EMS) department, thanks to a unanimous vote by county supervisors following a brief closed session during an Aug. 25 meeting. Tom Perry, who has been serving as emergency services coordinator, will be EMS chief.

Tom Perry

Tom Perry

Up to now, the county’s Emergency Services Committee (ESC) has not been an agency, but has members from all related agencies who meet once a month. District Three Supervisor Kevin Ingle said the ESC has been “doing a great job,” sharing information and concerns among all emergency, fire and rescue agencies.

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“But there is more we need to do, more attention to certain items, such as (the) Cumberland (Volunteer) Rescue Squad, to try to help them in the situation now, where they’ve got paid personnel during the day,” Ingle said. “And the only real way we can affect any positive changes is to go ahead and adopt a department that would not so much as be in charge, but be the link between the county and our emergency service agencies.”

This link will afford better opportunities to receive funds, he said.

Kevin Ingle

Kevin Ingle

“All these agencies are their own incorporation, and they’re all pure, separate entities, and we don’t want to ruin that for them,” Ingle said. “We want them to still be their own agencies, making their own decisions. But we needed to have this department … so it will give us the ability to seek different types of grants rather than one small department asking for it.”

County supervisors have appropriated $65,000 during the last 15 months to help out the Cumberland rescue squad, which has struggled with emergency vehicles either breaking down or needing repair, among other problems. Ingle said establishing an EMS agency as a county department will help give the agencies a different approach when addressing needs.

“They’ll have … the ability to be able to form up together and decide what are the needs of the county rather than just for the needs for their one agency,” Ingle said.

Ingle indicated Perry was an ideal pick to be chief of the new county department. He said Perry has worked with the Cartersville volunteer fire department and rescue squad.

“To be able fill that coordinator position, you really need to have fire and EMS training, and he does have extensive training in both fields,” he said, adding Cartersville’s rescue squad has helped Cumberland’s squad by sharing coverage times and crews to be able to provide ample coverage.

Perry expressed excitement for the job ahead in his new post.

“I’m very honored with the board asking me to take on that responsibility,” he said. “It’s a big task ahead, but one that all of us together — the entire county and all of the great volunteers that we have — can certainly come together and make work, and it’s going to benefit, most importantly, the citizens, because that’s ultimately what it’s all about.”

Affirming the benefits of the new arrangement Ingle cited, Perry listed a couple of others, too.

“Essentially in the long run, there’s some cost savings associated with coming together as one large organization as far as insurance and fuel costs and things like that,” he said.