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County group continues EMS response efforts

A key aspect of solving problems is hearing from people who are working through the same problems you are.

The Warren County Council of Governments Fire Services Committee took that approach during Thursday’s meeting, hearing from the Erie Area Council of Governments.

Jessica Horan-Kunco, the executive director of the EACOG, spoke to the committee and outlined many of the same challenges that Warren County faces, detailing how Erie has tackled those issues.

The officials on the call discussed the possibility of possible cross-county partnerships and a representative with the state Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) indicated that the state views shared services favorably from a funding perspective.

Whatever steps come next, Rich Barrett emphasized the importance of including the volunteer departments in the discussion.

“They have to have a seat at the table,” Committee chair Paul Pascuzzi said, raising concern about the “challenge” of fostering communication between municipal governments and the departments.

“The fact of the matter is it’s the taxpayers that are in need,” he said, and the “ones that are eventually going to foot the bill,” adding that the current model will need to change.

Horan-Kunco pointed out that the workload placed on volunteers is “unfair.

While those structural changes may be needed in the long term, officials are working on smaller initiatives to alleviate challenges now.

Pascuzzi said the group is “working on a simple web presence” that would provide direction to those interested in joining a fire department.

“We would have a central repository that would coordinate that with the chiefs around the county,” he said, hoping for rollout in the next month or two.

He noted that the group’s Facebook presence has already resulted in people taking steps to volunteer “which is fascinating. It’s fabulous.”

Public Safety Director Ken McCorrison told the committee that the 911 Center is “starting to see a stronger majority of volunteer ambulances following the EMS plan.”

That plan, established several years ago, set up a process for departments to find their own coverage when they know they will be out of service.

McCorrison said four departments a day are communicating with the 911 center in that area.

He said that is “saving time in the process for our dispatchers.”

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