State News

Orange County Rescue Squad ordered off 911 system

Posted July 16, 2008

— The Orange County Rescue Squad has been removed from the local 911 system after a number of complaints from the county's new emergency services director.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reports that on June 27, director Frank Montes de Oca Jr. ordered the private, volunteer rescue squad removed, citing safety concerns. He said emergency services supervisors should order squad members to leave if they showed up at accident scenes.

The squad serves the northern part of the county from a station in Hillsborough.

In a preliminary report dated July 1, Montes de Oca outlined a history of unsafe and unprofessional practices. In June, he said the squad's Rescue 1 truck spilled its equipment in responding to an accident on Interstate 40.

Rescue Squad Chief Brian Matthews said he never got to respond to the allegations before the order to stand down. He called many of the accusations baseless.

A second volunteer unit in the county, the South Orange Rescue Squad based in Carrboro, is not involved in the dispute.

Both squads have long also helped provide ambulance services in the county along with the county Emergency Medical Services division.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • cc27599 Jul 17, 2008

    My dept. has worked with these guys since the day they started, long before many of us were even born. This group is a very dedicated group. EVERY agency has issues, the problem is,in my opinion,that this group was sought out by those who wanted to take over their service. It's easy to read the negative comments on here by a couple of users and recognize the writing style of a former rescue squad member. The fact is that all those guys want to do is the right thing. They train, and whoever said certifications were not required, for the most part that is true, so the fact that most of their responders had STATE CERTIFICATION, means that this group went above and beyond instead of maintaining the minimum. What has happened, in my opinion, is the result of a few who have left the squad, because they couldn't get their way. Shame on the EM Director and shame on the Co.Manager for doing this behind the backs of the commissioners as another TV station reported.thank you OCRS for your svc

  • thinkbeforeyoublab Jul 16, 2008

    Nobody really reads these posts or the same stupid comments wouldn't be repeated.


    The difference is the OCRS isn't being dispatched on the few wrecks the went on. And guess what, RESCUES ARE BEING PERFORMED BY THE FIRE DEPARTMENTS who usually had finished the work by the time the rescue squad got there anyhow.

    There enough already.

  • momof3inNC Jul 16, 2008

    Sounds like there is way more to this story...Sounds like personal & political issues as well. You would think they would inform them that the need to do things a little better instead of denying the public of their help!

  • kewlmom Jul 16, 2008

    This story was amazingly void of detail. I do wish WRAL would have more information before publishing a story. This seemed to just ignite frustrations and worry rather than inform.

  • Living in Carolina Jul 16, 2008

    I don't think people realize that OCRS does not = ambulance/paramedics. OCRS only responds to special calls and work special events. The "special" calls they go on = wrecks, fires.... are calls that the fire departments and Orange County EMS are already responding too.

  • Common Sense Man Jul 16, 2008

    "While this issue is going on, keep in mind the people that will need the emergency 911 services."

    Thank you Captain Obvious.

  • thinkbeforeyoublab Jul 16, 2008

    Be patient. The truth will be revealed. Most or all of the people on the squad who knew what they were doing had already resigned before the 'standdown'. The EM Director knows what he is doing and this is not a new issue.

    The rescue squad is not a government agency but is a corporation of volunteers working under a franchise with the county to provide service. They do not recieve tax dollars from a tax district.

    Orange County is covered north and south be assured. The Fire Departments have the equipment and knowledge to take care of vehicle extrication.

    The EM Director would not drop a provder of service without knowing he had that same level of service in place elsewhere.

  • ThisIsMyName Jul 16, 2008

    A true story about fire department response... When I was a teenager, we had a chimney fire at our house. We lived in a rural sub-division about 15 minutes from the department. While my dad tried to put out the fire himself, I called the fire department... no 911 at that time. Not long before the fire, the department implemented a new system by giving each house in the district a number. This number was to help them locate a house faster. Well, I gave them our house number and they said they were on their way. Since my dad was doing a good job of controlling the fire, I didn't go outside and 10 minutes later I get a call from the fire department asking for our street address. I couldn't believe it, but I gave them the address. About 10 minutes later they called back asking what sub-division we were in. By that time my dad had put out the fire and he answered the phone. He told them not to bother, he put the fire out himself.

  • DougWare.NET Jul 16, 2008

    Capt Mercury,

    Your right, he may have been a trainee. If he was, then he wasn't the one responsible for the care he was providing.

    Secondly, those forms can be very confusing to someone who hasn't filled them out before or only a few times (there's a lot of information, abbreviations and check boxes).

    If he couldn't cut it, I'm sure he didn't last.

    These people deserve our thanks, not our nitpicks!

  • DougWare.NET Jul 16, 2008

    TheAdmiral, the answer to your question is simple....but there are two reasons..

    Fire Departments reduce property insurance costs, and are a required service. Not to knock firefighters (they are brave souls), but the real question is...why do even small rural volunteer fire departments get large sums of tax payer money? In the small town I worked in, the fire department (completely volunteer) received over $500,000 a year of tax payer money. The volunteer rescue squad where I worked at received none, we were completely donation supported (before the county made us join their "subscriber membership / billing system").

    Your county is required to provide law enforcement and fire protection. They are not required to provide EMS service. 99.9% do, but it's severely underfunded.