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Mountaineer Ambulances unable to cover area

KINGWOOD — The Preston County Commission voted unanimously to temporarily assign KAMP Ambulance to cover Mountaineer Ambulances service area for  three months.

The decision was made during a special session held to get input from the representatives of the  six remaining ambulance squads.

In a memorandum   to the commission, D. Rolland Jennings said Mountaineer Ambulance was unable to function as an EMS agency to cover its designated area. 

He said he would meet with the commission near the end of the three-month period, and give them an update on the status of Mountaineer Ambulance. 

“KAMP has to come from Kingwood to cover our area,” he said during the meeting. “Our area is very big. Some of our calls is a 30-minute drive from our station.  From Kingwood it’s a 20-minute drive.”

KAMP is the only county ambulance squad that provides 24/7 coverage and is one of three Preston ambulance services that have paid crews. The others are Terra Alta and Bruceton, which offer 12-hour per day service. Mountaineer, Tunnelton, Rowlesburg and Union have all-volunteer squads.

Pam Thomas, of KAMP Ambulance, said KAMP has been covering Mountaineer’s  area and would like to have a truck closer to the area for their use. 

“Nothing changed,” she said. “Most of the people in that area work for me.”

Tom Rankin, from  Tunnelton Ambulance service, said Mountaineer currently has no EMT or driver. 

“We (Tunnelton) have seven people,” he said. “Younger people don’t want to volunteer, you see it in the volunteer fire departments and in community groups.” 

Rankin said some ambulance personnel don’t want to go out on calls  due to COVID.

Kathy Sines, of the Rowlesburg Ambulance service, said things are not like they were 30 years ago.  She said back then, one parent worked and the other one stayed home.

 “At one time, Rowlesburg had 35 volunteers. Now we are down to six,” she said.

She said cost was also a problem.

“It’s $600 to take the class plus testing fees. How many people have $600 and the time to take classes to volunteer?”  Sines asked.

Peggy Gunneo, of  Bruceton  Ambulance service, said they too were struggling. 

“We can move in and take care of some calls but we have holes in our schedule,” she said.

Union Ambulance’s Adam Bachtel said they go on calls when they can.

“We do take care of our own,” he said

And Kelly Fike, of Terra Alta service, said they back up KAMP when they are out on a call.

“We try to go out for them,” she said.

County Commissioner Dave Price said ultimately the commission will have a bigger plan.

“What we have here is KAMP doing it (going out on calls) and the others (ambulance squads) backing them up when they can,” he said. “We can assign the area to you (KAMP) and go from there. Ultimately we’re going for a bigger plan.”

Price said he started Terra Alta ambulance and knew what it was like to keep an ambulance squad going.

“Expect more conversations,” he said. “We have to figure out a way to make things better.”

 Preston Emergency Management/911 Assistant Director Justin Wolfe said E911 could provide statistics and break them down  by day and by hour. 

“If we run the reports monthly, we can see trends that may allow for better allocations,” he said.

Commission President Samantha Stone told the representatives from the ambulance squads to be prepared for more meetings.  

She said during the next three months they, along with the ambulance squads,  would be working on a permanent solution.

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