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Belhaven ponders paid EMS providers

By Staff
Volunteers overworked, contends town’s mayor
By PETER WILLIAMS
Managing Editor
Belhaven is considering forming a paid emergency medical service to better distribute the cost of providing service and replace volunteers who have been lost to other EMS providers that pay their responders.
For every 10 calls Belhaven units answer inside the town, those units are responding to 15 calls outside the municipality, O’Neal said. A tax levy on people living in the EMS district would be imposed if the Belhaven system hires paid EMTs, he said.
Broad Creek EMS, Chocowinity EMS and the City of Washington provide paid EMT service.
Broad Creek EMS went to a paid service in August in part because some of the volunteers left to take positions with EMS providers that pay their personnel, said one Broad Creek EMS board member who asked that his name not be used.
County Manager Paul Spruill said one goal is to upgrade EMS service from the basic level to the intermediate level.
State law makes counties responsible for providing emergency medical services, but the level of service depends on if those EMS providers are staffed by paid or volunteer EMTS and how many members they have. When the Broad Creek ambulance rolls, it carries at least two intermediate-level emergency medical technicians. A basic-level EMT may ride along, but only as an observer.
Broad Creek provides 24-hour-a-day service;. The price tag for that service is about $250,000 a year. About $100,000 of that comes from a tax. The rest comes from transport charges and donations. The transport charge, or run charge, for Broad Creek is $400 per call.