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Commissioners OK new Rescue Squad contract

By Karissa Minn
kminn@salisburypost.com
SALISBURY — Six months after it was first proposed, county commissioners approved a new agreement with the rescue squad.
The contract now identifies the services requested by the county and sets a review date in five years. It does not guarantee a set amount of money, so commissioners will continue to look at the nonprofit agency’s funding each year at budget time.
The agreement with the Rowan County Rescue Squad had not been changed since 1999. After considering a revised five-year contract in November, the county board appointed a committee to review the agency’s services and funding.
Commissioners Jim Sides and Raymond Coltrain, who served on the committee, both said they’re satisfied with the resulting document.
“There were very good things that I thought came out of the meetings we had,” Sides said. “I think there was misinformation — possibly some misunderstanding — and a lot of that was cleared up, as far as what we expected not only of the rescue squad but also some of the fire departments.”
The group also included Emergency Services Director Frank Thomason and County Manager Gary Page. It met four times, including meetings with rescue squad and fire department officials.
Commissioner Jon Barber suggested an amendment to the contract that would let the rescue squad determine its own dispatch protocols. He said that authority is given to all fire, police and emergency services departments in the county.
“I believe the rescue squad should have the same flexibility,” Barber said. “As it is currently written, it doesn’t necessarily give the rescue squad the same level of dispatch authority as other entities.”
But Sides and Coltrain disagreed.
“We talked about dispatching — when do they go, when do they not, and what do they use to base that decision on,” Coltrain said. “All of this was discussed. We’re not really making changes to what is currently practiced, but we did want it a little more coordinated.”
He said some fire departments have informal agreements with the rescue squad to have them respond automatically to certain calls. This happens in areas where there is high traffic flow and low manpower, Coltrain said.
According to Sides, the committee has encouraged this where it’s needed, saying the agreements should be written and not only verbal.
Sides also said Emergency Services Director Frank Thomason had concerns about including language like Barber’s amendment.
Barber failed to get any other votes for his motion. In the board’s 4-1 vote to pass the agreement as presented, he was the only commissioner to oppose it.
According to the contract, services provided by the rescue squad are:
• Backup ambulance
• Agricultural rescue
• Air rescue operations
• Confined space rescue
• Heavy rescue
• Vehicle and machinery rescue
• High angle rescue
• Structural collapse rescue
• Trench rescue
• Water rescue, including dive operations, open (still) water operations and swiftwater operations
• Wilderness land search and rescue
The committee agreed that fire departments generally shouldn’t focus on providing these services, Sides said, unless they already have that capability.
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.
Twitter: twitter.com/postcopolitics
Facebook: facebook.com/ Karissa.SalisburyPost

In other business: 
Rowan County Board of Commissioners also:
• Approved a request to rezone 3.27 acres on Park Edwards Road in southwestern Rowan County.
Fred and Ethel Wallace asked for the rezoning from manufactured home park to rural agricultural to match the rest of their 8.78-acre property.
• Restarted the upset bid process for a county-owned property off Amity Hill Road, after accepting a bid of $45,595.
Amity Hill properties increased its bid from $35,474.75 after hearing from the county that the property’s assessed value was inaccurate. The county’s website said the property was worth $47,736, but current tax records show a value closer to $70,000.
• Approved a $440,000 bid for security fencing at the Rowan County Airport to improve overall airport security and mitigate various wildlife issues. The project would be funded with a Federal Aviation Administration grant that requires a $44,000 local match.
• Revised the county’s street appendix to match revised cross section diagrams by the N.C. Department of Transportation.
• Approved Juvenile Crime Prevention Council Funding Recommendations for fiscal year 2012-13.
• Approved Juvenile Crime Prevention Council Bylaw Amendments.
• Accepted a $14,111 Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant for the sheriff’s department.
• Accepted a $5,667 Interoperable Communications Grant Award for the emergency services department. The grant requires a $1,133 local match.
• Donated surplus property of two ambulance stretchers to Rockwell Rural Fire Department and Rowan Cabarrus Community College.
• Awarded a contract to Martin Starnes and Associates for auditing services, with an annual fee of $33,500 for the next three years.
• Approved a resolution supporting the N.C. Department of Transportation’s efforts to realign the intersection of Harrison Road and Sherrill’s Ford Road.
• Accepted reports from the Family Caregiver Support Program and the Child Abuse Prevention Task Force.
• Approved several budget amendments and board appointments.
• Proclaimed May as Shield-A-Badge With Prayer Awareness Month in Rowan County.
• Proclaimed May 13-19 as Law Enforcement Week and May 20-26 as Emergency Medical Services Week in Rowan County.
• Proclaimed May 19, 2012, as Let’s Get Connected Day in Rowan County.

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