The Worcester County Commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday to create a committee to tackle EMS and fire funding in the county.
The committee will review options for the county’s fire and EMS service, which has struggled in recent years to find funds to cover operations.
Ocean City Fire Chief Richie Bowers spoke at the Commissioners’ meeting on Tuesday, stressing that he was speaking on behalf of the fire companies as a unified group, as reported by the MD Coast Dispatch:
“I think it’s important for the county commissioners and (Chief Administrative Officer) Mr. Higgins to understand what is the lay of the land out there,” he said. “You have to understand what you’re making an investment in but you also have to understand what the demand is.”
Bowers said that though fire companies had provided service for years, they were now in a transition period as the demand for EMS increased and rapid community growth was underway. He talked about the need for a quick response to fires as the use of synthetic materials increased as well as the intense amount of training required so responders could help during special operations such as water rescues and hazardous material incidents.
Fitzgerald noted that while fire funding was adequate for no, EMS funding needed to be adjusted. He also noted that since the county’s fire and EMS funding formula was created in the 1970s, it had now reached the point where it needed to be reevaluated. A request was made and ultimately granted unanimously – for a committee of three commissioners, six fire service representatives, and two county staff members.
Funding for fire and EMS services has been an increasingly complicated problem in recent years, but never more so than during the pandemic.
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