At a budget work session held by the Accomack Board of Supervisors on February 28, 2022, the Board requested the County Administrator have the Director of Public Safety provide the Board with his written recommendations for improving fire and rescue services in Accomack County.
At Wednesday night’s Board of Supervisors meeting, EMS Director C Ray Pruitt presented the report containing his recommendations to the Board.
The highlights of the report are as follows:
- To provide standardized equipment on ambulances including EMS equipment, PPE, and adopt state practices to provide uniformity among all responders and to improve training for fire volunteers.
- Strategically staff core stations with Department of Public Service Fire Medics. These stations include Greenbackville, Oak Hall, Parksley, Onancock, Painter and Tangier during daytime only. The recommendation would require the hiring of two full time employees and convert two daytime staff at a cost of approximately $171,000 per year.
- Adjust DPS career staff pay bands to align with the new Virginia Compensation Board pay bands for Deputy Sheriffs that will be in effect on August 1.
Note that the improvements recommended are not all-inclusive but rather the most significant in terms of impact on the existing service level and safety according to the Director of Public Safety.
During the public comment session, representatives from many local fire companies addressed the Board on the items they supported and the items they were not in agreement. One of the more controversial items was consolidating EMS providers at Greenbackville, Oak Hall, Parksley, Onancock and Painter. This could effectively remove full time EMS providers at Melfa and Bloxom.
Pruitt said that this proposal was driven by data that shows that the consolidation would actually better serve these areas by providing more consistency and enable a quicker response. Pruitt said that the plan would improve service and help the county achieve the 20 minute response time goal more universally.
The subject generated over an hour of comments and questions. that involved issues concerning issues involving the pay scale for EMS responders and the relationship between volunteer paid staff.
After a very long discussion, Supervisor Renita Major brought the issue home saying, “I want to commend Director Pruitt for the work he did on this proposal. We asked him to put together a report and he did a great job. Nobody likes change and this proposal is not perfect but it’s a start. We have to start somewhere. We can always make changes as needed but we need to approve this to start the process.”
After another long discussion about staffing problems, a comment was made about a fund for fire and EMS that has a current balance of $5 million. After hearing of the loss of fire and EMS staff to other localities including Chincoteague and Salisbury after the County had provided training, Supervisor Hart said that the situation requires immediate action by the Board. The fund which is used so supplement Fire and EMS funding by the county had money that could be used to provide immediate funding with the money being restored in the next budget. After a discussion it was decided to ask staff to put together a report containing the estimated cost of the raises and present it to the Board for action at the August meeting.
The Board then voted to approve the proposals and thereby begin the process of implementing the proposal.
You can link to the power point presentation here: https://go.boarddocs.com/va/coa/Board.nsf/files/CGBGBJ42FB64/$file/Accomack%20County%20Fire%20and%20EMS%20Recommendations%20-%202022.07.12.pdf