Dear fellow Citizens of Tucker County.
I would like to take the time to let you know the state of EMS funding in Tucker County.
Prior to the beginning of this current Fiscal Year, Tucker County had an EMS Fee of $50.00. This fee allowed Tucker County EMS to replace some aging equipment, among other things. However, the fee was discontinued last year.
The Tucker County Commission placed on the ballot twice last year a request for the Citizens to approve an EMS Levy. These Levy requests were voted down by the public. While I personally was disappointed, the public spoke, and I do accept that.
Since that time, there were many changes in Tucker County EMS. Funding in TCEMS has changed and not for the better. Many Citizens have noticed the changes in the ability to respond when a Citizen calls for help.
Right now, the number of EMTs in TCEMS has gone down and there are no paramedics employed by TCEMS. If a paramedic is needed to care for a patient, they must be requested from another county. The EMTs that are here at TCEMS are working hard to care for the Citizens of Tucker County. These EMTs are doing a wonderful job at doing this, given the circumstances.
Funding is not only a local problem, but also a statewide problem. This problem is not unique to Tucker County, either. The Legislature for the State of West Virginia, especially our local representatives, are very much aware of this problem. Across the State at 1/3 of EMS providers have left the industry.
The Legislature had introduced four bills to be considered for passage. Only one passed by the end of the last session. One was introduced by Senator Randy Smith of Davis. This was Senate Bill 429. This would have allowed local County Commissions to enact a $1.00 Recreational Fee on the recreational activities a person does in a county. For Tucker County that would be skiing, playing golf and other activities. Whether or not the person doing the activity was a local or a visitor.
This bill was passed by the Senate but was held up by the House of Delegates committee on Development and Tourism. Delegate Gary Howell of Mineral County is the Chair of this committee. He would not even place this bill on the agenda to be considered. In my view this is because the Tourism Lobby did not want it to pass. If this bill had passed, it would allow a local County Commission to DIRECTLY fund county emergency services.
Even Tucker County’s own CVB fought hard against this bill. They are of the improper impression that visitors would not come because of this fee. I truly believe this is a false impression.
The Tourism Industry is really not looking at how the lack of emergency services within a county will greatly harm tourists and prevent tourists from coming to Tucker County. This also hurts local Citizens.
Joseph J. Strait
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