County mulls EMS deal

Shenandoah County might take over New Market Fire and Rescue’s emergency medical service calls after all.

The Board of Supervisors plans to discuss at its meeting tonight a proposed memorandum of understanding between the Department of Fire and Rescue and the volunteer organization. If approved, the deal would allow the volunteer agency to continue to use its equipment to respond to EMS calls.

The volunteer agency’s state-issued EMS license lapsed on Sept. 11. The operational medical director and the Office of Emergency Medical Services did not renew the license that allows the volunteers to use ambulances and related equipment to respond to calls. As a result, the volunteer agency could no longer use its ambulances and other EMS-related equipment the license had covered.

The Department of Fire and Rescue put county ambulances in the station to cover EMS calls, Chief Gary Yew said Monday. The department already provides paid responders trained as firefighters and emergency medical technicians. No break in EMS service has occurred since the license expired.

A letter dated Sept. 4 to the Board of Supervisors outlines the terms of the memorandum of understanding. Members of the New Market Fire and Rescue Inc.’s board of directors signed the letter.

Under the memorandum of understanding, the volunteer organization agrees to allow the county the use of the station for housing paid responders to provide services to New Market and the surrounding communities.

The department agrees to accept EMS licensed volunteers, apparatus and equipment of the organization to operate and provide service under the license of Shenandoah County Fire and Rescue Agency no. 162.

Yew declined to comment on the proposed terms given that the leadership of the volunteer organization addressed the letter to the Board of Supervisors. The county and his department are waiting to see what action the supervisors take, if any, on the proposal, Yew said.

In the weeks leading up to the expiration, some representatives in the volunteer organization were at odds over a proposed deal aimed at letting the county bring the agency under its EMS license. Chief Robbie Smith indicated that the proposal called for the organization to give up ownership of its ambulances. Yew said in late August that a draft version of the memorandum called for both entities to explore joint ownership of the apparatus and equipment.

New Market Fire and Rescue would hold titles for the ambulances and other EMS equipment the organization owns, according to the volunteers’ proposal. The letter identifies five vehicles.

“That’s my understanding of the fire department’s desire,” Yew said of the volunteers’ proposal. “That’s simply an option and we’ll wait and see what the Board of Supervisors’ desires are.”

The agency agrees to absorb the cost of professionally re-lettering the apparatus to meet state Office of Emergency Medical Services regulations. Other lettering and decals are to remain unchanged.

The county also agrees to provide training, mentorship and precepting to volunteers. All providers must operate within the regulations and policies set by the Virginia Office of Emergency Medical Services, the Lord Fairfax EMS Council, the Shenandoah County Standard Operating Guidelines and those established by the operation medical director for the locality.

New Market Fire and Rescue also agree to maintain and insure its apparatus under the existing policy. The volunteers will receive all money for mileage reimbursement to offset maintenance and upkeep costs. The agency agrees to develop a rotation schedule and to maintain the apparatus in a state of readiness.

All funds generated by volunteer providers’ services will be returned to the agency per the existing, cost-recovery agreement.

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