Multiple EMS in Brunswick Co. could lose franchise agreements

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BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Brunswick County plans to end its franchise agreement with two long standing emergency medical services– Leland EMS and Coastline Volunteer Rescue Squad.

According to the County Emergency Services Director Edward Conrow, the county manager recommended that these franchises be terminated giving the county total EMS responsibility.

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Coastline Volunteer Rescue Service has been in business for 41 years and Squad Chief David Robinson is unhappy the county didn’t notify him directly first. He says the volunteer squad responded to nearly 1,000 calls last year and fills in where the county lacks resources.

“We’ve been a critical resource for those folks, in moving patients when Brunswick County EMS either would not or could not assist in moving these patients,” Robinson said.

One local resident agrees.



“If we lose that Coastline down there, the people down here are going to be in trouble,” Martin McDonald said.

Robinson said he first heard the news on Wednesday.

“Staff that was on duty gave me a call and said they had been out answering calls in the community and had been approached by someone from the Brunswick County EMS indicating that they had heard we would no longer have a contract in the 2019-2020 fiscal year with Brunswick County,” Robinson said.

Robyn Hamme has been one of 20 volunteers on the front line answering non-emergency and emergency calls for more than 15 years.

“It’s more than just a job to do,” Hamme said. “It gives me a sense of spiritual fulfillment to even come and help people and, as my Chief was saying, we do welfare checks, as well. We can go out to their house, check blood pressure, vitals and things.”

McDonald says, when Brunswick EMS wouldn’t transport him to the services he needed in Chapel Hill, Robinson stepped up.

“If it hadn’t been for him getting up that night and taking me to Chapel Hill, I really don’t know what I’d done,” McDonald said.

McDonald’s been diagnosed with leukemia, but the care he needs is miles away and he needs the proper medical transport like the squad provides.

But, after assessing costs of supporting these franchises, the county said it can afford to provide these services directly. The county plans to step up its coverage by adding 8 new paramedics to the EMS staff and possibly 5 additional ambulances.

Brunswick County is expected to begin providing emergency medical services for the Town of Leland per County staff’s recommendation to not renew the Town’s ambulance franchise in the coming fiscal year. Town and county staff are discussing a July 1, 2019 transition date. The county is expecting no service gaps with this transition.

As part of that proposed agreement, the Town anticipates the County will offer employment to Leland’s full-time EMS employees and purchase the Town’s operational ambulances. Leland will provide County EMS with space within one of the Town’s fire stations.

County and Town officials are developing an agreement for the transfer of EMS services, and it is anticipated that the Brunswick County Board of Commissioners and Leland Town Council will each consider the agreement later this month.

The Board of Commissioners and Town Council will consider approval of the proposed EMS service agreement during their next regular monthly meetings on May 20 and 23, respectively.