SNOW HILL – Local fire companies have reached an agreement with the organization behind a major bicycling event to ensure emergency service needs are met.
Fire companies in Worcester County will receive roughly $8,700 to provide emergency services during Saturday’s Sea Gull Century Tour. The agreement comes after the Worcester County Commissioners expressed concern last month that the tour wasn’t covering the cost of the fire and EMS services provided by local companies during the event.
“We’re going to monitor the event this year and see if this is a sufficient amount of funding to cover the impact to our fire and EMS services,” said Weston Young, the county’s chief administrative officer.
In September, the commissioners asked staff to begin developing a special event permitting process after being made aware of concerns regarding the fire and EMS cost of the Sea Gull Century.
The bicycling event, which includes a 100-mile course and a 63-mile course, is held each October. While the event is based in Wicomico County, about 60% of it occurs in Worcester and creates a significant impact on local emergency services. Last year, staff said call volume doubled the day of the event.
Representatives from emergency services told the commissioners last month that the SU Foundation, which puts on the event, had only agreed to provide partial funding for the cost of fire and EMS response by Worcester County companies.
In the weeks since, however, the fire companies have worked out an agreement with the SU Foundation, which will now provide $8,731 for emergency services. That will cover two ambulances and five staff at Newark, two ambulances and five staff at Snow Hill, one ambulance and two staff at Pocomoke and one ambulance and two staff at Berlin.
“Organizers will take the request for additional funding into account for next year’s ride, when they will have adequate time to consider that expense as it relates to the event’s overall budget,” said Jason Rhodes, public relations director and university spokesperson.
According to Worcester officials, fire companies were initially seeking more than $20,000 to cover the event.
Most were seeking the cost of providing 12 hours of coverage, while the Berlin Fire Company was also seeking a per diem allowance. The companies were able to reduce the estimated cost, however, by shortening the coverage period from 12 hours to 10 hours to more accurately reflect the timing of the event and by adjusting equipment fees.