Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

May 22, 2012

Outlook healthy for Bluefield Rescue Squad

BLUEFIELD, Va. — After coming close to closing its doors almost two months ago, the Bluefield, Va. Rescue Squad has recovered and continues to improve, the Bluefield, Va., Town Council was told Monday.

In early March, local and county leaders were informed that the rescue squad, which serves Bluefield, Va., and adjacent parts of Tazewell County, Va., would have to close its doors

Officials in the town of Bluefield, Va., the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors and the Southwest Virginia EMS Council then met to address the squad’s financial problems. The county board of supervisors approved a $7,500 grant to cover the squad’s payroll for 60 days. The town council provided another $7,500 to fund squad payroll.

Town Manager Mike Watson said during Monday’s town council meeting that the squad’s financial situation is improving. The call-volume, or number of emergency calls the squad receives, continues to increase, he added.

“We have not had to dip into that money at all,” Watson said of the town and county funds that have been contributed. “We have not had to give them any money, so it has been going well. Their call volume seems to be increasing. Both the county and the town have been real supportive and are working together on this.”

Both the town and the county have provided staff to help the squad work on its finances, Watson said.

“We’ve seen a tremendous improvement in the service, in the number of calls for assistance has drastically increased, and the financial condition is improving day by day, but we still have a ways to go,” said Mayor Don Harris. “They’re making an attempt to come back and to be as viable as they have been in the past.”

In late March, the Virginia State Police served an indictment on Thomas Franklin “Tommy” Carroll, the rescue squad’s former administrator. Investigators alleged that from January 2008 to June 2011, Carroll embezzled more than $100,000 from the squad.

Jason Kinser, 31, was appointed the squad’s interim administrator in late March. A native of Tazewell County, Va., he said at that time that he had 12 years of experience in the EMS profession. Kinser continues to serve in this position, Watson said.

The town council unanimously approved a resolution recognizing the continuing improvements indicating that the squad is viable and will continue to operate.

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