Carroll County has announced plans to reorganize its deployment of county emergency services equipment and personnel to improve levels of service and response times for all county residents, particularly those in Cana.
Carroll County Administrator Steven Truitt said the new plan will be implemented with a particular focus on the southern region of the county below Fancy Gap Mountain, including Cana and other nearby communities.
The county’s plans, which have not been finalized as to exact numbers, include deploying full-time employees to a permanent location in the Cana area, along with sufficient equipment to enable the team to respond to local emergencies as effectively as possible. For the next few weeks, Carroll County EMS personnel, supplemented by part-time employees, are staffed in the area to ensure timely round-the-clock response until the new plan is fully implemented.
The most likely permanent scenario calls for six full-time employees to be deployed, supplying the area with 24-hour coverage seven days a week. The new resources will be deployed in a location other than the current Cana Rescue Squad building.
Contrary to television news reports, Truitt said the county is not dissolving the Cana Rescue Squad. Carroll is moving the ambulances there that it already owns to another location as it implements its plan to enhance EMS coverage in Cana.
“We are not dissolving Cana Rescue and it’s not that we don’t like them. There are just not enough of them to volunteer anymore,” Truitt said. “They do a great service and they are great people. We just need more coverage in that part of the county than we have right now. The focus is we need better average response times regardless of who is doing it. The members of the Cana squad have been invited to continue to participate with the squad with how many people we put down there and they will be integrated in with them. We appreciate their experience, expertise and contributions. The intent is just to make a good thing better.”
Truitt said the new plan will also improve the timeliness of call-response reporting, due simply to more available manpower to complete calls on a timely basis, which also helps reduce the cost of providing the services to county residents. Truitt emphasized that Carroll County recognizes the value provided by these dedicated volunteers and owes a debt of gratitude for their years of excellent service.
As far as the Cana Rescue Squad dissolving, Truitt said the group is an independent organization that decides itself whether to dissolve or not. The county is reorganizing its approach to providing emergency services to residents with the lone goal of improving health and safety outcomes in the area.
Truitt said the county is not taking over ownership of Cana’s rescue squad building. The building belongs to the rescue squad and it is still available to Cana for use if so desired. Carroll has moved the squad’s county-owned ambulances to the Cana Fire Department building. Truitt added that the county is also looking at two locations that already belong to the county as a permanent home for county EMS services in Cana.
“We have a couple of places we are looking at. We have an idea and they are both in good locations right off of U.S. 52 and you have to have that to have 24/7 coverage, places to sleep and things like that. There are a couple of locations being evaluated and we will get one as soon as we can,” Truitt said. “We are finalizing how many people they are staffing there now while we figure the permanent situation. There will be a full crew down there and there is full-time coverage there now.”
The final cost to providing full-time coverage in Southern Carroll is unknown at this time. Truitt said there could potentially be an increase in tax dollars over what was budgeted for the year, but he said there was already a budget in place to help support the current volunteers in Cana. Additionally, he said the county believes billings will go up because the response rate will be higher in the Cana area now.
The new plan will be phased into operation over the next few weeks and will be finalized in time for the next Carroll County Board of Supervisors Meeting on August 14, 2017.
Allen Worrell can be reached at (276) 779-4062 or on Twitter@AWorrellTCN