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Disbanded group submits proposal to resume service

By Elizabeth Wilkerson -- ewilkerson@nvdaily.com

Doug Mowery Jr. stands outside an ambulance
Doug Mowery Jr., the new president of the Strasburg Volunteer Rescue Squad, stands outside an ambulance at squad headquarters on Tuesday. Rich Cooley/Daily

STRASBURG -- A proposal from the Strasburg Volunteer Rescue Squad, which wants to resume its service, is now making its way from the agency's attorney to county officials, squad leaders said this week.

Doug Mowery Jr., who was elected the squad's president on Aug. 3, said Tuesday that the organization had talked with its attorney earlier in the day.

"Our attorney's supposed to take back our proposal to the county attorney, and then we're sort of waiting for that," Mowery said. He said he'd rather not comment on the proposal "right now."

"Let's let them look at it first," he said. Mowery, who has volunteered with the organization for about 40 years, said he thought the county would receive the proposal "very shortly, within days."

Chief John Nixon, who was re-elected to his post in last week's voting, also declined to comment on the proposal's specifics Tuesday. To this point, he said, work on the document has been done "in house."

On Wednesday, County Administrator Vince Poling said he hadn't yet received a copy of the proposal and wasn't sure whether the county's attorney had received it.

On April 14, the Board of Supervisors voted to shut down the squad for consistently failing to produce enough volunteers to run emergency calls. On the same day, the county filed a complaint in Shenandoah County Circuit Court asking that the squad's assets be handed over to the county and a receiver be appointed for the assets.

In May, the board approved a resolution that county attorneys "nonsuit -- but not dismiss" the complaint. The resolution said any organization, including the shuttered squad, could make proposals on providing "reliable" EMS service.

On Tuesday, Shenandoah County Fire and Rescue Chief Gary Yew said he thought the county would be looking for "a plan from the rescue squad that shows how they're going to provide staffing at a consistent level" before it allows the agency to run calls again.

"I don't know that we're asking that their plan show staffing for every day, but maybe a period, 48 hours over a weekend, and we can work with them from there," he said. "The rescue squad has to assure us that staffing is consistent and will be there."

During those times the squad could provide coverage, Yew said, "we would probably relocate the ambulance that's currently in Strasburg."

The squad's volunteers are "eager" to resume running calls, Mowery said.

"I like being able to help people, which ... I feel certain most of the volunteers all throughout the county feel the same way," Mowery said.

The volunteers "want to serve the community," Nixon said, "and right now our hands are tied and it's discouraging that we can't help out citizens," which is the "main goal."

When asked whether he was concerned about lingering tension between the county's paid staff and volunteers should the squad resume running calls, Nixon said, "We're hoping to work on that."

"We're all here for the same thing, and that's serving the community," he said. Whether someone is a volunteer or staff member, "we're all here to do the same job," he said.

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