They’ve done their part

Published 5:51 pm Friday, August 10, 2007

By Staff
One of the functions of government is to help protect the people it governs.
The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners is trying to do just that. This week, the board unanimously voted to begin the process of establishing a special tax district to raise the money needed for Broad Creek EMS to provide around-the-clock emergency medical service to people in its coverage area. That means hiring more intermediate-level EMS personnel.
People living in that area would pay an additional tax to help pay for that expanded coverage. If approved, that additional coverage and the special tax district would take effect July 1, 2008.
Meanwhile, Broad Creek EMS wants to provide that around-the-clock, paid EMS coverage as soon as possible. To that end, commissioners also voted to provide an additional $106,490 to Broad Creek EMS for the remainder of this fiscal year so it can provide that expanded coverage.
The additional allocation for this fiscal year and revenue generated in future years by the imposition of the special tax — if people in the Broad Creek EMS service area go for the special tax district — will be money well-spent. Commissioners are to be commended for giving those people an opportunity to decide for themselves if they are willing to pay more for expanded and improved emergency medical services.
This week, County Manager Paul Spruill indicated the county, if the special tax district is approved, will recoup its $106,490 additional expense this fiscal year by establishing a tax rate for that district that will bring in a little more revenue than needed to provide the expanded coverage in the next fiscal year and subsequent fiscal years. That extra revenue will be used to pay back the county for providing Broad Creek EMS the “up front” money needed to begin the expanded coverage this fiscal year.
With around-the-clock EMS coverage provided by paid personnel, Broad Creek EMS will better be able to respond to calls at night. Currently, Broad Creek has few, if any, problems responding in a timely manner to daytime calls. That’s because paid EMS providers are on the job during the day. The problem with slower response times comes in the evening when Broad Creek EMS relies heavily on volunteers.
According to what Broad Creek EMS officials told commissioners this week, it takes 10 minutes or longer for Broad Creek EMS providers to respond to 91 percent of the calls they receive at night. In situations where one or two minutes can mean the difference between life or death, a 10-minute response time on most calls is not where Broad Creek EMS wants to be.
It speaks well of Broad Creek EMS officials that they noticed a problem and offered a solution for that problem. It speaks well of the commissioners that they understand the problem facing Broad Creek EMS and acted to help provide a sensible solution.
People living in the Broad Creek EMS coverage area should give careful consideration to supporting a special tax district to raise revenue to pay for EMS coverage 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 365 days a year. They should view the additional tax they would pay as a form of health insurance.
Beaufort County’s commissioners and Broad Creek EMS have done their part. It’s up to those people who are served — and served well — by Broad Creek EMS to do their part.