Preston County

Commission votes to create an EMS advisory board

KINGWOOD — The Preston County Commission  unanimously voted to form an EMS advisory board during a special session Tuesday.  

Commissioners have been working on a system that would allow service to be provided to areas where ambulance squads have closed their doors. 

In 2021, KAMP Ambulance added a second station  in the southern end of the county. It began as a temporary station in Newburg. It later moved to Fellowsville after the Fellowsville Volunteer Fire Department purchased the old Mountaineer Ambulance building and allowed KAMP use of the building. 

On  May 21,  Rowlesburg Ambulance shut its doors for the final time, leaving a hole that is currently being covered by the Terra Alta Ambulance Squad and KAMP Ambulance.  

Commissioner Hunter Thomas said he believed having the ambulance squads become centralized would decrease costs.  

Pam Thomas, president of KAMP Ambulance, said some areas without service are closer to KAMP and others closer to other ambulance squads. She indicated the ambulance squads closest took the calls.  

“We’ve been doing this for years,” she said.  

“The data I got from Justin (Wolfe, assistant director of Preston County E-911) said that’s not working, if I’m  looking at it properly. I don’t know if I’m missing something and a quarter of times it’s out of parameters.” 

Commissioner Samantha Stone said the commission needs to look at the areas being served and redraw the map.  

Stan Betler, a former ambulance squad member, said speaking as a citizen there is a problem.  

“Everyone knows we have a problem with the ambulance,” he said. “This is a territorial thing. We only have four squads left. The county commission is ultimately in charge of providing ambulance service. You’d get more people coming in if you wouldn’t have this territorial thing. Eventually someone is gong to die.” 

Nicole Larew agreed.  

“Bad publicity is coming because of wait time,” she said.  

“I talked to people. No one cares where the ambulance comes from,” Smith said. “But the odds of passing a levy for funding isn’t good. It only goes for five years and then you have to pass another one. The county commission can establish a fee. What it represents is the county taking over, or does the county distribute it and create an EMS board?” 

“We’ve worked on this for years. We’ve tried to give you the information. We’ve submitted budgets. We have a crew in Bruceton now because the Bruceton crew is not available,”  Pam Thomas said. 

“We look at the best service. To me that’s what’s important. Why not work together?” 

Pam  Thomas said there is “no territorial” in the county. She said all of the ambulance squads work together. “We don’t feel you can make it better,” she said. “It’s a trust issue.” 

“I asked Justin how many ambulances we would need for a perfect world and he said five. We have to have an advisory board. You would still be running it and we have to have accountability. That would be up to the advisory board,” Smith said.  

Stone said the biggest issue is trust. She said she wants everyone to be on the same team. “We need you people to make it work,” she said.  

Smith said he would check the numbers and update the different plans and incorporate Rowlesburg.  

“We’ve accomplished nothing today,” Stone said. “We’ve thrown out a variety of ideas. One, struggling, two county money dumped in, or three, working under a county-run ambulance squad. There is going to be a decision to be made.”