SNOW HILL – The mayors of Worcester County’s four municipalities this week called for the formation of a task force to study EMS funding concerns.
Berlin Mayor Gee Williams told the Worcester County Commissioners this week that the mayors had met to discuss the need for additional funding for emergency medical services. They asked the commissioners to form a task force to address the growing problem.
“In Worcester County the funding and equity of EMS services is becoming a crisis regardless of the size of our communities,” Williams said.
Though Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan was unable to attend Tuesday’s meeting, Williams was joined by Pocomoke City Mayor Bruce Morrison and Snow Hill Mayor Gary Weber as he advocated for an increase in EMS funding. He said the four had met and shared their concerns regarding inadequate EMS budgets.
“This is a priority issue for all four mayors and it should be for Worcester County,” Williams said.
He said the demand for services was growing in all of the municipalities and their respective fire departments needed more emergency medical services personnel. Williams asked the commissioners to consider increased EMS funding for the coming fiscal year and also to form a task force—including representatives of each town—to address the issue.
“In the past when funding for EMS services in Worcester County has been discussed and determined, none of our municipalities have been invited to the table,” he said. “That can no longer be the case.”
In Snow Hill, Weber said the town was at a disadvantage because it had a high percentage of residents over the age of 65. The lack of sufficient EMS coverage had pushed some residents to leave Snow Hill.
“This issue has been the greatest factor in our decrease in population,” he said. “This is not only a life and death issue but also an economic one, as our seniors are leaving Worcester County, moving closer to medical services in Salisbury.”
Though he wasn’t present Tuesday, Meehan last month approached the commissioners to talk about the financial toll providing EMS coverage to West Ocean City was having. He indicated that if the resort was going to keep providing the service, it would need compensation from the county.
Commissioner Joe Mitrecic thanked the mayors for their input and said the board had already agreed to set up a work session to discuss EMS funding.
“We will certainly consider formation of a task force at that point in time,” he said.