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Garner EMS calls Wake County for assistance

Posted April 22, 2010

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— Officials with Garner EMS & Rescue Squad are making a 911 call to Wake County to rescue the financially strapped EMS system.

Expenses have outpaced revenue at Garner EMS for several months, officials have said. The nonprofit agency, which is overseen by an independent board of directors, laid off one employee last fall and has been trying to cut expenses to remain operational.

Garner EMS seeks help from Wake County Garner EMS seeks help from Wake County

In a statement released late Wednesday, Garner EMS Chief Bill Frederick said the board decided to allow Wake County EMS to assume control of its paramedic division as of May 31.

A formal request is expected to be made by the end of the week.

Frederick said that the EMS division depends entirely on billings for revenue and because of the economic climate, is not in a position to ensure that cash flow will be maintained to make payroll and pay off debt over the long run.

"Operating an agency from week to week and not knowing the financial condition is a very stressful way to run a business – and especially not the best situation for an emergency services provider," he said in a statement.

Garner Mayor Ronnie Williams said the financial issues had nothing to do with missing money from the city's volunteer fire department in which a routine audit uncovered nearly $400,000 missing from the fire department's accounts.

"The SBI is on top of that and has promised some closure on that in the not-too-distant future. This, though, is a little bit of a different situation," he said. "To me, it was a misappropriation of business practices."

The Wake County Board of Commissioners was prepared to shift $318,177 to the Wake County EMS and create nine paramedic and nine emergency medical technician positions two weeks ago to assume control of Garner EMS.

But agency officials asked commissioners to pull the item from their agenda, saying they had enough money to meet short-term needs.

Wake County Board of Commissioners Chairman Tony Gurley said the board still has to vote on the request. It's next meeting is May 3.

"I think it is a good idea if it's what is required to continue this essential service," he said, adding that it appears that if the county takes over, continued revenue would be enough to cover Garner EMS's operating costs.

"Everyone agreed that the most financially thing to do would be for the county to take over."

Wake County EMS Director Dr. Brent Myers said the move should be seamless and not cause any disruptions in service.

"From a street perspective, for the citizens that call 911, there will be a transparent change. They won't notice anything," Myers said.

Garner EMS operates three full-time ambulances at an annual cost of about $1.2 million. During the first two months of 2010, the agency responded to more than 1,000 calls.

Myers said he does not expect any layoffs.

"Every full-time employee there will have a job offer with the Wake County EMS division, no doubt about it," he said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • RonnieR Apr 22, 2010

    Yes, but if they fail, as in the instant case, then the county is obligated to pick it up, not the municipality. The volunteers have a "franchise" with the county to provide it.

  • Nc fire resq 29 Apr 22, 2010

    IN NC ems is not always a county function there are alot of EMS agencys in NC that still are under there own Board and are not under the co. and on top of that there are many agencys that are still VOL.. And are ran with a Vol. at night and a paid paramedic during the day so. And like the other person said on here thats what they do. The insurance will pay it then turn around and say they didnt pay it and it goess on ur credit report so just make sure u get something saying that it was paid in FULL..

  • RonnieR Apr 22, 2010

    In NC, EMS is a county function.

  • yg58 Apr 22, 2010

    I thought Wake County was strapped for cash and was cutting funding all around. Now they have the money to give to Garner? Doesn't Garner itself tax its residents for services, of which EMS should be one?

  • didisaythat Apr 22, 2010

    For those that continue to say the local gov't employees need to step up and take pay cuts and accept layoffs, this is what can happed to the Wake County EMS. EMS, Sheriff's Office, etc are under that umbrella of employees. Do you really want to have less EMs and LEO or have them paid less for a job that very few could handle to do for any length of time. Instead of telling the county employees to take cuts, tell these lazy citizens that are sucking up all the money from handout programs. I pay for my electricity, mortgage, etc..I dont' get handouts, but then told I should take cuts because it is happening in the private sector. This is not the private sector. As an employee I did not create the shortfall in money. It is paying out more to be people getting free stuff then collecting in taxes. NOT MY FAULT. If you want to continue giving free money to people you have to raise taxes. Not take what little money I get to pay for someone else. Sorry I am so insensative to the ne

  • SomeRandomGuy Apr 22, 2010

    "Perhaps they are having a hard time collecting the money--folks not paying and insurance hassles."

    That may be true, but they need to get their bookkeeping straight as well. Both my wife and my daughter have been transported by GEMS. My Health insurance paid them a contracted rate. For some reason, they thought they didn't get paid and I began to get calls a from a collection agency-for something that was already PAID!

  • Nc fire resq 29 Apr 22, 2010

    EMS will never be under one system and the reason is there are to many Vol. agencys that are making it and can provide EMT or Paramedic care and do it for FREE. Next thing is yeah garner ran 1000 calls the first month out of them 1000 calls how many if them calls did they transport? how many had insurance? how many are going to pay? prob very little insurance does NOT pay all the bills all the time just a percent so they may never see that money. Next is garner ems and rescue (GEMS) is diff then Garner fire dept and it wasnt till just a few months maybe a year that garner fire dept (GFD) started extrication garner ems and rescue(GEMS) has always done extrication so the fire dept stepped in and said they will also do.

  • wakeconative4ever Apr 22, 2010

    Sounds like they need to take over Garner Fire as well

  • RonnieR Apr 22, 2010

    tikisha, you're confusing the Fire Department with the EMS/Rescue.

  • piratepeople2 Apr 22, 2010

    why did they decide they need help now after refusing it very recently?