NC county discontinues funding to 2 EMS providers
Coastline VRS and Leland Fire Rescue's EMS franchise agreements will terminate, and Brunswick County EMS will take over those operations July 1
Star-News, Wilmington, N.C.
BRUNSWICK COUNTY, N.C. — Brunswick County has terminated its franchise agreements with two EMS providers.
In May, the Brunswick County Commissioners and Leland hammered out an agreement that would eliminate the county's franchise agreement with Leland Fire/Rescue for emergency medical services and allow the county to take over those operations. The move came after Leland requested more than $800,000 in funding from the county.
Coastline Volunteer Rescue Squad also requested funding from the county, and county staff also recommended terminating the franchise agreement for that organization. During the commissioners' meeting Monday night, citizens made last-minute pleas for funding.
David Robinson, chief of Coastline Volunteer Rescue Squad, told commissioners that the organization has served residents in Brunswick County for about 42 years. He said that during that time, it has made a positive impact on the community.
"We have really got a good group of volunteers that have really worked hard over the years to help our community," Robinson said. "It's not just about what calls we answer. There's a lot that goes on that you guys don't realize."
Robinson said he was aware of the commissioners' interest in the organization's call response, which is about 25 percent. He explained that the department's limited resources were largely the reason for the low percentage. The department has two ambulances, a team of volunteers and a couple of part-time staff. He added that the department was working to address those issues and has maintained a relationship with Brunswick County EMS.
Citizens who attended Monday night's meeting also expressed their support for Coastline, and pleaded with county officials to maintain the franchise agreement. Annette Cortes of Holden Beach shared how the organization helped a woman find oxygen during Hurricane Florence.
"Please let them keep running for our sake and for our community's sake," Cortes said.
Some citizens expressed concerns about how discontinuing the franchise agreement would affect call response times.
County Manager Ann Hardy responded that the 2019-2020 fiscal year year budget contains "substantial efforts" to improve emergency medical services throughout the county.
"So, folks throughout Brunswick County will have newer, better equipment, as well as more EMS paramedics," she said. "Because when we can pool our resources, we can be more effective, we can operate more efficiently, and we can provide better services."
Hardy added that those in the affected service would not experience a change in their service because more financial and personnel efforts would be going into those areas of the county.
The board unanimously approved the 2019-2020 budget, which does not include funding for Coastline VRS or Leland Fire/Rescue's EMS division. Coastline VRS and Leland Fire Rescue's EMS franchise agreements will terminate, and Brunswick County EMS will take over those operations July 1 -- the start of the 2019-20 fiscal year.
Reporter Renee Spencer can be reached at 910-343-2364 or at RSpencer@StarNewsOnline.com.
©2019 the Star-News (Wilmington, N.C.)