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Wake County may have to rescue Garner EMS

Posted March 17, 2010

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— Wake County EMS is poised to take over Garner EMS, which could run out of money within a month, officials said Wednesday.

"We are going to assure there's uninterrupted service to the citizens of Garner," said Dr. Brent Myers, director of Wake County EMS.

Garner EMS ambulance Garner EMS struggling financially, could fold

Myers said that revenue projections for Garner EMS were on target through Jan. 1. Eastern Wake EMS has been the only paramedic group in the county in recent years to have approved expenses exceed revenue, he said.

"We have no indication of criminal activity at all (in Garner), and we're just now trying to gather exactly what the situation is," Myers said. "What we're trying to do now is look at the (cash) outflow side. That's the part we just don't know yet."

Garner EMS Chief Bill Frederick blamed the financial straits on "billing issues" and the poor economy.

The agency, which is operated as a nonprofit and overseen by an independent board of directors, is trying to cut expenses, Frederick said, but he's unsure if enough money can be saved to keep it in business.

Garner EMS has 15 employees – a 16th was laid off in November – and operates four ambulances out of two stations. During the first two months of 2010, the agency responded to more than 1,000 calls.

Frederick said officials are looking at cutting employee pay and benefits and reorganizing Garner EMS.

"It's very critical, very crucial they continue to operate," said Garner Mayor Ronnie Williams, adding that he learned of the EMS financial problems only last weekend.

If Garner EMS shuts down, Myers said the county would step in and keep the employees and ambulances rolling.

"We're working on resolving the problem. The citizens can still dial 911 and be assured the ambulance will come at their calling," Williams said.

The EMS problems come weeks after Garner officials learned from an outside auditor that money was missing from the Garner Volunteer Fire & Rescue Department.

The State Bureau of Investigation is looking into the disappearance of nearly $400,000 from the department. No charges have been filed in the case, but Amy Moore, the administrative assistant who handled the fire department's books, abruptly resigned last month.

21 Comments

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  • JKA07 Mar 19, 2010

    In reference to Garner EMS buying the Orange County Rescue truck, they did not buy it, get your facts before stating such. The truck is there because the bank (one beside Garner EMS) took it from Orange County Rescue and they are keeping it in their parking lot...Garner EMS/Rescue and Garner FD dont cover the same area ither, hence the need for 2 sets of rescue equipment.

  • SomeRandomGuy Mar 18, 2010

    The first thing they need to do is decide WHO is going to provide Rescue services! GEMS was the rescue squad, but recently GFD has added RESCUE to their name. The other thing is GEMS just bought a new Heavy RESCUE truck from Orange County that has been sitting beside the station for over a month now. Why do they need a new rescue truck? The one they already have doesn't seem that old, or used that often. (It DOES get used, just seems like not very often).
    We do NOT need Garner EMS & Rescue AND Garner Fire & Rescue, thats redunant.

  • DJ of Clayton Mar 18, 2010

    There was no need for Garner Fire to buy their rescue trucks. Garner Rescue already had one. Since Garner Fire is taxpayer supported, that was a waste. The best thing to do right now would be to combine Garner Fire and Garner EMS into one agency and put it under the auspices of the town. That would be better for the employees, better for the citizens (they are already paying for it, at least this way we KNOW where the money is). This approach has been very successful elsewhere. Even Apex is doing it now.

  • Nc fire resq 29 Mar 18, 2010

    I love sitting here reading peoples comments and some of them are true and others are just stright up crazy if u don't know what u talking about then don't talk and don't assume. Assuming gets u in trouble garner resq has had a resq truck then garner fire bought one there for that's a waste of $$$ on the towns part not the agencys and if u have a problem with the care that u recieved call the agency and complain dnt complain on wral. Like someone else said as a emt in nc there are alot of good ones and a few bad apples so I'm srry u recieved bad treatment.

  • Adelinthe Mar 18, 2010

    They don't just serve Garner, we saw them come down our road a time or two when we lived in South Raleigh too, and they're one good service...well worth saving.

    God bless.

    RB

  • DJ of Clayton Mar 18, 2010

    First, Garner Fire and Rescue and Garner EMS are two TOTALLY DIFFERENT ORGANIZATIONS. What happened at GFR is probably fraud. What happened at GEMS is probably from expenses rising faster than income. Garner frequently has to bail out Wake EMS and run calls in South and Southeast Raleigh, where a lot of people have no insurance or job or the have MEDICAID, which only pays about $60 per trip and they are not allowed to bill for the rest- take it or leave it. Wake County EMS is hardly in better condition, they are around a half million over budget now. Probably in no part to the Chargers that have not held up, all of the uniforms they have bought over the past 3 or 4 years, and all of the administrative staff they have....maybe it is time for belt tightening. I am sure GEMS will try but what about WCEMS?

  • sunneyone Mar 18, 2010

    freetospeak, or have wages garnished. I work in payroll and one of our employees got garnished by another county a little west of here for an ambulance trip.

  • sunneyone Mar 18, 2010

    archmaker, I hope so, too. Wake Co doesn't have the money to take on more.

  • freetospeak Mar 18, 2010

    I wonder if the vast quantities of people that have to call for ambulance services all have insurance and if not are they paying the $400+ fee for the service? Do what Guilford County does, if you don't pay the bill, it will come out of your NC tax refund check. That should recoup some of the money.

  • applesmith Mar 18, 2010

    Be sure you clear the merger with "DAVID THE CROOK COOKE" Wake county manager. He will find a solution he's good at cutting and taking benefits.$400.000.00 No problem he will just get the funds for Garners EMS from the "WHALE WATCHING ACCOUNT"

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