The Accomack County Board of Supervisors heard requests for more EMT coverage for Greenbackville and an impassioned plea by Emergency Services Director C. Ray Pruitt for more full time help. Pruitt said that the response time for Greenbackville/ Captain’s Cove EMT calls falls beyond the 20 minute maximum. Pruitt said that even though the Supervisors agreed to provide 2 full time EMTs for Greenbackville , the reality was that most of the time there aren’t two available so other fire companies have to reach out of their territories to answer calls at Greenbackville and Captain’s Cove. It would require 7 full time EMTs to give 24/7 service to Greenbackville. Greenbackville Fire Chief Barry Outten appeared during public comment and said that the EMT service there was under water. It was unable to provide the services the public expects and is entitled to.
Pruitt said that system wide he needs a minimum of 5 extra employees which would include a separate HR person for Emergency Services and a full time EMT trainer. Pruitt says that while Accomack County provides jobs as EMTs for high school graduates, it takes current staffers off the road to train the new people which along with other absences for various reasons including illness and vacations, often requires some stations to be short on personnel which endangers the public.
Pruitt said “ the data tells the story.” The data shows a need.
Supervisor Crockett asked if the two budget amendments, the Greenbackville request and the EMT request could be treated as separate items. He said ‘I don’t want to object to the request from Emergency Services but support Greenbackville. Crockett asked Pruitt if his needs were any different than those of the Sheriff’s Department.
County Administrator Mike Mason chimed in reminding the Board that he warned them in February that the current tax structure will lead to situations like this where going forward the county will either have to raise taxes or cut services.
The tide turned in the discussion when Supervisor Donald Hart added “the numbers support Greenbackville’s request.” Hart added, “In my 40 years on the Board I have never heard anyone complain about tax increases to provide EMT or Fire services. Everyone in the County knows that it becomes personal when you know that ambulance might have to come to your house.” Hart added that many times he has heard requests by citizens to raise their taxes for better Fire and EMT protection but hasn’t heard any objections,
Other Supervisors commented as well. Supervisor Paul Muhle said, “ the most important service we provide the citizens of the county is EMT and Fire protection.”
Supervisor Anette Johnson added that she agreed and supported the proposals.
Chairman Ron Wolfe added, “ you can’t argue with the numbers. It is what it is. HR is very important and it is a package deal.”
Although it appears the Board, in general, supports both requests which would require a tax increase, Crockett won one battle. He made a motion to schedule two separate hearings one on staffing Greenbackville and another to add 5 more full time employees to the EMS staff.
County Administrator Mike Mason said that dividing it into two public hearings wasn’t a problem.
The motion was approved unanimously.