Letter to the Editor

Volunteer firefighters need

Sunday, November 1, 2009

To The Editor:

In reference to the article dated Thursday, Oct. 29, 2009, "Commissioners Review Terms of Service Contract," I read this with some interest.

At no point in the article did Mr. Paul Sinders nor Mr. Bryan Husband make any mention to compensate emergency response organizations.

Volunteer fire departments in this county respond to virtually all calls that TransCare respond on. TransCare receives funding from the county as well as payment from insurance companies.

At no point do the fire departments in this county receive any compensation for their emergency response.

With the cost of fuel, maintenance and upkeep on vehicles, why is there not a provision to compensate fire departments that make the same emergency response?

I know this may sound like a volunteer fireman who is wanting to make more money for his fire department, however, this opinion is based on 33 years as a career firefighter.

I recently trained a fire department in Missouri that is all volunteer and has an annual budget of more than $300,000.

That's more than all 11 volunteer fire departments combined in just one year.

I am still involved in a large career fire department that is east of here and we make EMS runs.

However, they are limited only to life threatening emergencies.

In Clay County, emergency response agencies respond to every thing from a cat scratch to general weakness.

What people fail to understand is that once the agency arrives, they are committed by law to that patients' care. Even if a more significant event occurs, they cannot leave for that emergency.

At some point during the contract discussions, some consideration should be given for the allotment of funding back to our departments or limit the number of calls to only those that are true life threatening emergencies.

I know some fire departments in this county want to make every emergency call that is available merely to boost their run loads so that it looks good for grant applications.

However, the small volunteer fire department that I am associated with is forced to operate on less than $13,000 a year. You can't even operate a home on that amount of funds.

Please don't take my opinion lightly because the next time you call 911, help may be delayed because the emergency response organization does not have the money to keep their equipment in peak condition.

Thomas J. Champion,

Rescue Training, Inc.,