North Warren Emergency Medical Services resumed service as of 6 a.m. Friday Dec. 21 after a reorganization of their agency. The squad’s board of directors voted just a few days earlier to hire E5 Support Services to provide paid staffers, while reserving management positions — and seats on the squad’s board of directors — for volunteers. The agency, which responds to hundreds of calls annually in the upper Warren County region, suspended its service Dec. 3 for a total of 18 days to accomplish the reorganization.
Local volunteers will soon be manning ambulances again in the towns of Chester and Horicon..
The North Warren Emergency Squad resumed operations at 6 a.m Friday Dec. 21, just 18 days after it suspended operations to reorganize, agency spokesman Doug Wildermuth said.
This realignment in staff and management was prompted by North Warren squad officers quitting over disagreements between volunteers and paid staffers over how the squad should be managed.
Wildermuth said early Dec. 19 that the ambulance squad’s board of directors had approved a contract 12 hours earlier with his enterprise — E5 Support Services — to provide paid staff for the not-for-profit agency, and the board members had interviewed about 10 prospective members, both existing volunteers and new recruits, to serve on the reorganized squad.
During the service suspension, personnel of Empire Ambulance Service, a for-profit enterprise, answered emergency calls out of the North Warren squad’s station.
North Warren Emergency Medical Services has traditionally provided ambulance services for Chester and Horicon.
In recent years, allegations have surfaced that some of the paid personnel were making inappropriate decisions concerning their own compensation — and recently, that several paid staffers were attempting to influence volunteer members to force resignations of volunteer squad board directors who had opinions different than theirs.
Chester Supervisor Fred Monroe has said that former paid staff members who were also in executive roles, had refused to turn over the agency’s financial records to the sponsoring towns, which angered many citizens and volunteers.
Due to the controversy and questions about the squad’s future, the Town of Chester board had tabled a resolution to renew its annual $60,000 contract with the squad.
Wednesday, Monroe said that with the squad back in business, the $60,000 payment would undoubtedly go forward.
“This is excellent news,” Monroe said. “We have hardworking, dedicated volunteers, and I’m glad the squad got their issues straightened out.”
Wildermuth said that while the agency’s board members were interviewing and selecting volunteers this past two weeks, he was doing likewise with prospective paid emergency medical personnel.
“We’re looking forward to working together now,” he said, noting that a number of the volunteers who had quit because they were disillusioned with the squad’s troubles, had now rejoined the agency.
One of the board of directors’ concerns, he said, was obtaining appropriate comprehensive training. Wildermuth said his enterprise would be providing that training.
“We’ll be getting North Warren’s members re-certified in CPR,” he said. “We’re all looking forward to a good working relationship to better attend to the needs of area communities in our service area.
Board of directors president Gary Scidmore couldn’t be reached Wednesday.
Wildermuth said that he was pleased that new volunteers had stepped forward to serve in addition to the former members coming back to resume their vital work on behalf of neighbors.
“It’s so good to see this dedicated volunteerism — and the community pride,” he said.