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Carroll County volunteer emergency services association talks priorities for department with commissioners

Carroll County Department of Fire and Emergency Services Director Robert H. McCoy, Jr. speaks during a 9/11 Remembrance at the Carroll County 911 Memorial at the Public Safety Training Center Friday, Sept. 11, 2020.
Carroll County Department of Fire and Emergency Services Director Robert H. McCoy, Jr. speaks during a 9/11 Remembrance at the Carroll County 911 Memorial at the Public Safety Training Center Friday, Sept. 11, 2020. (Dylan Slagle)

Carroll County commissioners held a joint work session with the county’s Volunteer Emergency Services Association on Thursday to discuss how to move forward after the county’s fire and emergency services director resigned last month.

Robert McCoy was selected as Carroll’s first director of the budding Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services in July 2020, with the intent of leading Carroll in forming its first countywide combination fire and EMS service. McCoy resigned after less than one year in the position.

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All 14 volunteer departments in the county are individual private corporations.

Although the county provides a large share of the operating expenses, only a portion of the expense of employing paid fire and EMS personnel are provided. The remaining cost of paid staffing is covered by EMS billing from ambulance transports and fundraising activities. In addition, no funds are provided for capital expenses such as fire stations or emergency response vehicles, including ambulances, fire engines, ladder trucks, rescue squads, or support vehicles. These expenses are covered using funds that volunteers must raise through their fundraising efforts.

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“I didn’t agree with some decisions made up until this point but this is the perfect opportunity now to switch into another gear and move forward in a more efficient manner,” Commissioner Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, said of finding a new director. “The new person will have new ideas and new thoughts.”

He asked CCVESA what they would like to see changed.

Ricky Baker, of the Emergency Services Advisory Council, said departments are “spending hundreds of thousands of dollars above and beyond” what the county gives them to make payroll. “That’s a huge issue right now.”

He said priorities for the new director should be managing the payroll issue and hiring more employees.

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According to David Coe, EMS Operations Chair for CCVESA, two years ago, 90 paramedics became certified in the state of Maryland.

“We’re fighting with a bunch of larger jurisdictions all around us for those 90 people,” he said. “It’s a very slim pool.”

Added Wantz: “The amount of people who are being recruited to get into the business is down as well.”

Commissioner Ed Rothstein, R-District 5, said the new director of the department needs “to be somebody with credibility.”

“We need somebody … that has the ability to listen and understand the resource management piece and tools to put in place,” the commissioner said, mentioning the position has been listed.

Bruce Fleming, president of the Carroll County Volunteer Emergency Services Association, suggested CCVESA play a role in hiring the next director.

“We did have a seat at the table last time … We would respectfully request to have a position like that because it worked so well,” he said, with commissioners agreeing.

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