Police looking into finances of Wake EMS provider
Posted May 3, 2011 6:58 a.m. EDT
Updated May 4, 2011 1:16 p.m. EDT
Raleigh, N.C. — A private paramedic service that served part of northern Wake County shut down suddenly late Monday, and Wake County EMS assumed control of its operations as Raleigh police began looking its the service's finances.
Wake County Manager David Cooke said Tuesday that Six Forks EMS had "financial management and financial accountability" issues that required a county takeover.
The county requires an annual audit from private EMS providers, and the last valid audit of the not-for-profit Six Forks EMS was in 2007, Cooke said. A 2009 audit was deemed "fraudulent," and no audit has been submitted for 2010, he said.
"It was their inability to present the 2010 audit that led to discoveries going backwards," Cooke said.
Ed Fuller, a volunteer treasurer for Six Forks EMS, has resigned, and bookkeeper Jill Cafolla is on leave.
Raleigh police have launched an investigation into the provider's finances.
Cooke said he doesn't know if any funds were misappropriated or used incorrectly, but not conducting annual audits raises questions. Six Forks EMS had an annual budget of about $2 million.
Six Forks EMS Chief Daniel Cline declined to comment.
Wake EMS Director Brent Myers said other county paramedics are covering the Six Forks EMS area, along with help from Eastern Wake EMS and Cary EMS, until the 26 full-time employees who worked in Six Forks EMS ambulances can be switched to the county payroll. That could happen as early as Wednesday, officials said.
"This is an event that none of us wished on anybody," Myers said.
Six Forks EMS had another 40 or so volunteers at its four stations, at Lynn and Leadmine roads, Creedmoor and Norwood roads, the Pleasant Valley area and the Brier Creek area.
Cooke and Myers said the takeover wouldn't affect ambulance response times or patient service.
It's too early to tell how much the takeover will cost Wake County taxpayers, Cooke said, noting that he has to see a legitimate audit and the results of the Raleigh police investigation. Revenue from patients covers most of the expense for the salaried employees, he said.