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New Standards Could Force Volunteers Out of the Rescue Business

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MOMEYER — Volunteer rescue workers say new standards set by theNorth Carolina Association of Rescuecould force them out of business. The standards call for more training and more equipment. The Association says they are fair and attainable.

Nash County's Momeyer Volunteer Fire-Rescue Squad is acquiring the gear necessary to comply with the new standards. The problem is they do not have anywhere to put it.

"We don't even have one-fourth of what they require us to have to meet the standard," says Momeyer Fire-Rescue Chief Paul Manning.

Manning says the current rescue truck is too small. A new truck large enough to hold the required gear could cost as much as $200,000.

"This is a standard that's going to require a lot of money and it's more or less being crammed down our throats," he says.

The new standards also require that rescue volunteers increase their number of training hours from 36 to 246.

"I believe there needs to be a standard, but it's hard for a volunteer to commit to the time," says Volunteer Rescue Captain Eric Batchelder. "In a paid department a paid person can take the time, but it's hard for a volunteer to work and evenings sit in a classroom."

"What's 246 hours if you teach them how to save someone's life," asks Gordon Joyner, executive secretary for the Rescue Association. He believes the 496 departments across the state can and will meet the standards.

"Things change. If they don't change with the times, they'll be out of business," says Joyner.

And that is something rescue workers here hope does not happen. The departments have five years from July 1, 1999 to meet the standards.