Merging of squads discussed

Published 8:29 pm Wednesday, August 23, 2017

A need to replace emergency response vehicles and an update on possibly consolidating rescue squads in Cumberland and Cartersville was discussed by county supervisors recently.

Tom Perry

Cumberland County Fire & Emergency Management Services (EMS) Chief Tom Perry notified the board Aug. 8 that the Cumberland County Volunteer Rescue Squad’s vehicles are aging, resulting in three ambulances breaking down over the course of one day.

Perry said the Cumberland Rescue Squad borrowed an ambulance from Cartersville to provide the paid staff with transportation.

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Perry said the oldest Cumberland Rescue Squad ambulance is a 2002 model that has more than 130,000 miles. He said the two other Cumberland units are 2009 models that are approaching 100,000 miles each.

Perry said over a 10-day period, the agencies under the Cumberland County Fire & EMS umbrella responded to 45 calls. He said the average trip for medical transport ranges between 40-45 miles.

The agencies under the jurisdiction of Cumberland County Fire & EMS include Cumberland Rescue Squad, the Cumberland County Fire Department, the Cartersville Fire Department, the Randolph District Fire Department and the Cartersville Rescue Squad.

Perry is considering applying for a Rescue Squad Assistance Fund (RSAF) grant to cover a portion of the vehicle costs.

Perry noted that there has been neglect of the emergency vehicles in past years but said he and the agencies have worked to get the vehicles in the best possible shape.

Perry said the Cumberland Rescue Squad has also looked into purchasing used vehicles, citing one like-new option costing approximately $80,000.

“I think we all agree we don’t need six ambulances for two agencies,” Perry said, noting the separate rescue squads for Cumberland and Cartersville. “If we can reduce the fleet for some of the maintenance calls, but get two dependable units, one at each end of the county and have at least one, if not two, reserve units.”

He said the goal is to have five units total between the two rescue squads.

Kevin Ingle

District Three Representative Kevin Ingle encouraged Perry to pursue the grants.

“Whatever grant monies are out there or that we can apply for, we need to pursue those as much as possible for as many units as we feel that is necessary,” Ingle said.

District Two Representative Lloyd Banks questioned Perry about the progress of potentially merging the two rescue squads.

“I don’t know how sustainable it is for us to have all of the different fire and rescue units,” Banks said.

“We’ve had some really good discussions through the Emergency Services Committee (ESC) and all of the agencies together, trying to rebuild Cumberland Fire & EMS into one organization that we’re all a part of,” Perry said in response.

The county made the Cumberland County Volunteer Rescue Squad a county agency last September after the county agreed to pay debts from the rescue squad.

Perry cited there have been “bumps in the road” regarding the collaboration, but he wasn’t specific to what issues were addressed.

“Once we get all of that on the same page, I think you’ll see a better consolidation of effort,” Perry said.

Perry noted that he and Kim Lightfoot, chief of operations with the Cartersville Volunteer Rescue Squad, have collaborated on issues relating to equipment.

Banks expressed concern about the lack of a definitive timeline for the potential merge.

Perry said there has been greater collaboration between the agencies, noting he would keep the board updated on the progress of discussions.