Agency claims prior license compliance

A captain with New Market Fire and Rescue refuted claims Tuesday that the volunteer agency failed to meet state license requirements.

The Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors learned at its meeting that morning that the Office of Emergency Medical Services in the Department of Health likely would not renew the volunteer organization’s license to provide services following a history of failing to meet reporting requirements. The state office granted a 30-day extension on the license to allow county officials to meet with the volunteer group.

No one from the county or the board alerted the volunteer organization that the subject would come up in discussion, Capt. Stephanie Seekford, who oversees emergency medical services for the agency, said Tuesday afternoon.

“I had no idea that that was actually going to be on the agenda today,” Seekford said. “Had I known that would have been on the agenda today, yes, I would have taken off work to actually have shown up, figure out what was going on.”

Seekford wasn’t the only representative of the agency that claimed to be out of the loop. Reached for comment Tuesday about the compliance issue, New Market Fire and Rescue Chief Robbie Smith said “that’s the first I’ve heard of it.” Smith added that he knew the department applied to renew the license. He said he had not received notification from the state regarding the status of the license. Smith serves as chief of the entire volunteer agency but oversees the firefighting side of the organization.

At the meeting, Supervisor John R. “Dick” Neese, whose district includes New Market, told the board he had not talked to members of the volunteer organization about the license matter.

Nazir Adam, operational medical director for the county, advised the board he likely would not renew the agency’s license. Seekford said she had not heard from Adam regarding the status of the license.

Seekford said it was unfair for the board to discuss the matter without agency representation present.

“It would have been nice if somebody would have known ahead of time,” Seekford said, noting that the issue didn’t come up at the organization’s monthly meeting Monday night.

Seekford said she received a call from the organization’s president after the supervisors meeting, and the president advised her that she wasn’t in compliance.

“I got proof that I’m compliant,” Seekford recalled telling the president. “I have it printed off.”

Seekford said she contacted Assistant County Administrator Evan Vass after the meeting and informed him that this was the first time she had heard of any problems with the license.

“Usually we get certified letters from them,” Seekford said. “I haven’t gotten any emails … I have not had any kind of communication with the [Office of EMS].”

The volunteer agency is required to report data quarterly to the Lord Fairfax EMS Council, Seekford explained. The council then reports to the operational medical director whether or not the volunteer agency is compliant with its paperwork, Seekford said. She admitted that sometimes her reports are filed late.

Seekford commented that she is trying to make the agency compliant. She noted that the organization has gone through leadership changes and the previous administrator for reporting left the volunteers to work as a paid responder for Shenandoah County.

The captain said she expects to gain more volunteers who can respond to EMS calls once those recruits receive proper certification. Officials cited a lack of certified responders as a possible reason they wouldn’t renew the EMS license. Seekford explained that she and other volunteers run calls. However, a volunteer doesn’t get credit for responding to the call if he or she isn’t the attendant-in-charge, Seekford said.

“The numbers are deceiving,” Seekford said. “They might have been on the call and helping, whether it be doing CPR or helping the person in the back.”

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com