Proposed budget cuts put an end to EMS transport service

Published 4:12 pm Friday, June 14, 2024

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Proposed budget cuts from Chocowinity town commissioners could end a transportation service used by hundreds of residents. 

Until a month ago Chocowinity EMS offered non-medical emergency transportation to residents who needed to travel to dialysis appointments, doctors appointments and more. Residents who utilized the service are non-ambulatory and due to safety reasons could only be transported by ambulance, explained Chocowinity EMS Chief Derrick Myers.

Chocowinity EMS transportation service received over 1,000 calls last year, Myers said. He shared the frustrations of residents who learned the service had been terminated. Chocowinity EMS serves residents in town and half of the Blounts Creek population. 

“At the last meeting, there was a lot of support from the community as a whole – pleading, telling the town ‘please revisit, because the service is definitely needed,’” Myers said. The commissioners most recent meeting was on June 4. 

Seeing residents show their support for EMS transportation by attending the previous meeting, in Myers’ mind, exemplified the value residents see in the service and the appreciation they have for it. 

Proposed budget cuts from Chocowinity town commissioners would eliminate the service and reduce EMS staff by five positions. During the 2023-2024 fiscal year EMS was allotted $1.6 million, but in the proposed 2024-2025 budget they could receive $960,000. A reduction of $640,000, Myers said. 

In anticipation of proposed budget cuts, Chocowinity ended the transportation service in May. “To be fair to my employees we stopped doing transports at the end of May,” Myers said. “We are going to a reduction in staff when the new budget comes out, and I wanted to make sure that my employees had the opportunity to be available to look for other avenues.” 

Clarifying where the proposed budget cuts came from, Myers said EMS did not ask for these cuts, but rather, the town commission. 

Myers plans to attend the next town commissioners meeting on June 18. There, he will ask commissioners to reconsider reducing EMS’ budget by more than half and further, terminating the non-medical emergency transportation service. 

Commissioners are expected to finalize and vote on the budget by June 30.