Pocahontas County EMS Crews Provide Vital Services For Residents And Tourists

Frost, WV – “Mr. Saffer asked me earlier how EMS is,” says Pocahontas County EMS Authority President Don McNeel, “and I told him, well, it’s like fire departments and everything else, we’ve got volunteer problems. People don’t like to go through all that training, to get out there and get ‘bedeviled’ I guess.”

And yet they do, and both county residents and tourists are thankful they are there in a time of need. McNeel was speaking at the Emergency Medical Services Authority dinner, an annual event that brings members of the various rescue squads, county government officials and the media together to socialize and talk about the state of the EMS. There are several rescue squads in the county – BFD, Cass, Hillsboro, Marlinton, PMH and Shavers Fork.

Janet Ghigo is a member of the BFD squad and Treasurer for the EMS Authority. She says they look at statistics such as how many times ambulances were sent out and the number of patients transported to gauge how the squads are doing.

“We also ask how many of the patients you transported were not from this county and that gives us an idea of how many tourism people,” she says, “now sometimes they’re family members from Pendleton County, [but] they count. It kind of justifies the fact that it’s tourism money, that Hotel/Motel tax is paying on it.”

Shavers Fork Fire and Rescue [SFFR], based at Snowshoe, gets the largest percentage of the tourism calls. Ghigo gives the numbers from 2009, the year for which she has the latest stats including those from SFFR.

“There were 445 tourists included in the people we transported that year and a lot of those numbers are going to be from Shavers Fork,” she says. “Course, we get to count those people twice a lot of times because if they go to the hospital, and then the hospital transports them on someplace, they count twice as tourism.”

She says there’s a good reason why she analyzes all that data.

“Since we have two paid squads, what I’ve tried to do is find out how much did it cost the paid squads per mile and per patient transported, and then look at the number that we transported with volunteers to get a handle on the value of the volunteers,” she says. “The most valid way of looking at that is the value per run done by the volunteers. We’re running right around $450,000.00 in value of the volunteer time every year. So if the county had to pay to do what the volunteer squads are doing, it would be another $450,000.00 a year.”

Ghigo also has high praise for Pocahontas Memorial Hospital and their willingness to work with the squads to provide supplies when needed and to swap out expired drugs. PMH CEO Barbara Lay says she’s also pleased with the relationship.

“I’d just like to say on behalf of the hospital I’m really glad we’re working collaboratively together with the ambulance squads, and we’re really working to reengage and improve quality in locations that we keep,” says Lay. “We appreciate that we’re developing and redeveloping and reengaging those relationships.”

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

Current Weather