The Washington County Board of County Commissioners approves a transition plan to shift the Volunteer Emergency Medical Services (EMS) companies career staffing into County employment. The Division of Emergency Services is authorized to begin transitioning the Volunteer EMS companies career staffing into county employment in the late Spring of 2023.
The transition of EMS companies career staffing into county employment doesn’t affect Hancock Rescue Squad yet.
The voluntary transition will begin by transferring staff from Williamsport Fire and EMS and Smithsburg EMS into county employment.
The county will also start to evaluate and determine the most economical and feasible approach to a countywide billing service.
A countywide billing service will establish uniform billing rates and billing processes throughout the county, which will also relieve the burden of billing services from the volunteer corporations.
“Williamsport Volunteer Fire and EMS is committed to furthering steps with the county taking over EMS with their plan and would like to continue talks in that direction to finalize takeover as soon as possible,” said Williamsport Fire and EMS President Timothy Ammons.
Smithsburg EMS President Joan Cooper-Gerber said, “I am pleased to announce that the staffing of the Smithsburg Emergency Medical Services will be absorbed by the Division of Emergency Services. For several years, we have struggled to maintain the most qualified individuals in a competing market. We have concluded that DES staffing
is the best solution to deliver excellent emergency medical services for our community. Our Board of Directors and staff are fully committed to this new approach and are eager for its success.”
In 2007, a study on the future of EMS was conducted by a workgroup of fire and EMS officials within Washington County.
The study highlighted challenges the volunteer EMS companies endure, including issues related to staffing, financial, and administrative functions.
These challenges were carefully considered, and Washington County Government in partnership with the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association and each volunteer fire and EMS company determined the delivery of EMS services in Washington County could not remain sustainable under the current deployment model.
It was determined the consolidation of all supplemental career staffing under the Division of Emergency Services would be necessary. Additionally, a consolidation allows both full and part-time personnel to be utilized throughout the county, enhancing both service levels and administrative efficiency.
Currently, five of the eight volunteer EMS companies have indicated an interest in moving forward with conversations to consider the transition. The transition requires the development of Memorandum of Understandings (MOU) to govern the relationship between the county and the host companies. This deployment model will help provide equity across the system with standardized competitive salaries and benefits packages.
Hancock Chief Stephen Barnhart said right now it will only be Williamsport EMS and Smithsburg EMS, but Hancock could be part of the transition “down the road,”
“Washington County Government is proud to continue its collective partnership with the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association and each of the volunteer fire and EMS companies throughout the County. While the County moves forward with the transition, it is important to remember that these volunteer companies will continue to depend on the donations and support of citizens,” said R. David Hays, Director of Emergency Services.
Commissioner President John Barr said, “Washington County Government is committed to providing outstanding services to its citizens. As we continue to look for ways to enhance public safety services, we have full confidence that this transition will progress us in the right direction.”