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Lake board examining town EMS service

By Jefferson Weaver

jeffersonweaver@nrcolumbus.com

Lake Waccamaw is exploring the possibility or re-establishing EMS service as part of the fire department.

Town Manager Harry Foley and Commissioner Kevin Butler briefed the board on the idea at Tuesday’s commissioners meeting. Foley said the two had met with County Emergency Management Director Kay Worley and County Manager Mike Stephens, and were encouraged by the discussion.

“There’s a lot to consider,” Foley said.

The Lake’s fire and rescue department was shut down in 2013.

An inspection by the state fire marshal’s office found multiple problems with recordkeeping and other issues, and the town decided to close the department while rebuilding.

A number of former members of the department founded Lake Waccamaw EMS. Those members filed a lawsuit against the town to keep possession of a number of pieces of equipment purchased through department fundraisers, including a fire truck. The lawsuit was eventually settled.

Station 30 has the county contract to provide emergency medical service in the Lake Waccamaw fire district until 2020.

The fire department was reestablished in 2014, and now has one of the best fire insurance ratings in the county. Expanding into EMS is a natural progression, Foley said, but one which will take time and work.

“In order to put the EMS on the road for the town, we have to start budgeting now,” Foley said. He emphasized that the goal was “not to put Station 30 out of business.

“We don’t want there to be any confusion,” Foley said. “That’s not the purpose behind looking into this.

“There are situations where we have entrapments, trauma cases and other medical emergencies that it would benefit the town to have rescue service out of our fire department,” Foley said. The eventually goal would be to provide paramedic level service within the town’s coverage area.

Foley said the cost to provide rescue through the fire department has not been finalized, and while it will be substantial, “We’re still looking into the feasibility right now.”

“The goal is to improve the safety of our residents and visitors,” Butler, a founding member of the resurrected fire department said. “We owe it to them to at least look at all the possibilities.”

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