WLOS ABC13 - Search Results
Rescue Squad Says It's Forced to Close
Volunteer Life Saving and Rescue has shutdown after 52 years in business.
Chief Tommy Raye says the rescue squad has been forced to close after a new county policy choked off revenue by barring the squad from responding to certain calls.
"Our call volume has been cut so bad that the finances to keep a paid organization just really ain't there anymore," said Raye Monday - ten days after his squad signed an agreement to merge with Rutherford County Rescue, one of the two other rescue squads serving the county.
Rutherford County officials changed a long-time policy in May. The EMS operating guidelines allowed rescue squads to respond to "Alpha" calls, which are non-emergency calls and "Bravo" calls, which are slightly higher-level emergency calls.
Since as early as November, the county has barred rescue squads from responding to "Bravo" calls, which accounted for about half of Raye's call volume and revenue every month.
Rutherford County's rescue squads are EMT trained and so they are tasked with handling the minor less-serious calls so that the trained paramedics can remain free to respond to serious 911 calls.
Raye says, as the county responds to more minor calls, which he and the other squads used to handle, it is putting citizens at risk..
"I don't think there's any way they can really justify it," said Raye. "They can make you on paper say this is this, but in reality you can't. Basic life support should have basic life support patients - that's what keeps the paramedics free to handle the heart attacks the strokes."
Raye's squad merged with Chief Allen Emory's Rutherford County Rescue squad October 25.
Emory says there will have to be layoffs to the staff which now includes more than 40 full and part time employees.
Emory has hired a Charlotte attorney to persue an anti-trust case against the county.
Monday county officials declined to speak but EMS Director Kerry Giles said she had been surprised to hear about the merger and released this statement:
"Our focus is what is best for the quality of care for the citizens of Rutherford County. We look forward to working with the volunteer rescue squads in any way they wish to be organized. The citizens can rely upon EMS service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. We are there for them."