In bringing the issue to the attention of the commissioners, Director of Emergency Services Mitchell Byrd said he had received a letter from the Tar Heel Rescue Squad stating that it could no longer provide coverage from 12 midnight until 6 a.m. from Sunday through Thursday effective January 1.
He pointed out that heretofore the squad had covered that area of the county at all times except 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. on weekdays.
He pointed out that this cessation of service would "tax the county EMS beyond its present capabilities."
He explained that the county had begun covering the eastern half of the county from 6 p.m. until 12 midnight by stationing an ambulance in the Kelly Rescue Squad Building. This decision, he said, was made in response to the Kelly Squad closing down operations.
"That unit returns to Elizabethtown at 12 a.m. to cover Elizabethtown, Clarkton, Lisbon, Carvers Creek, Ammon, Hickory Grove, Bay Tree, Kelly and East Arcadia," Byrd stated. "If we added the additional areas of responsibility, there is no way the one unit could cover it."
Byrd said the Tar Heel Rescue Squad's request would require an additional 60 man-hours per week of EMS coverage as well as increasing the geographic coverage area.
He asked the commissioners to allow him to use part-time EMT's to cover the additional hours for the remainder of the fiscal year. He said doing so would cost about $20,000.
"However, in the event that there is not a sufficient pool of part-time employees, we would need to consider additional full- time employees," he said.
When asked if he had part-time employees available to man the additional hours and an available ambulance, Byrd stated that he had.
He also stated, in reply to another question, that the Bladenboro Rescue Squad was well prepared to cover its coverage area at this time.
With that the commissioners voted to support Byrd's request.