CORNING — Limited resources and funding seems to be a problem with most small communities throughout Perry County. In a recent meeting about health networking, the emergency management director for Perry County stated that communities in the southern part of the county are of a “crisis” pertaining to EMS and emergency responding.
Last week, Perry County EMA Director Rita Spicer spoke at a health network meeting at the SKLD facility in New Lexington. In the meeting, Spicer stated that locals in the southern part of the county are vulnerable due to a lack of EMS manpower.
“So basically, right now, New Straitsville only has first responders, Shawnee has first responders and Corning has fire and EMS but they do not have the people right now either,” Spicer told The Perry County Tribune.
The Corning Fire and EMS department is in the midst of a transition after former Chief David James stepped down from the role. In 2020, Travis Donahue has stepped into the role but lacks the crew personnel to make EMS runs to locals in the southern part of the county, according to Spicer.
“We have been taxing, basically, all the rest of the volunteer and paid departments in Perry County to cover all the runs for the southern part of the county,” Spicer explained.
She added that Portsmouth Ambulance and Community Ambulance is picking up the slack for runs as well. The lack of EMS power in the southern part of the county is a big point of emphasis for the EMA director because it leaves people wondering and hoping that help arrives on time if at all.
“It a big thing, we need EMS coverage,” Spicer commented. “I mean, we are waiting anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour for a squad to get to the southern part of the county.”
Spicer also added that the villages are congregating amongst themselves to try and address the issue of coverage. Spicer has met initially with Community Ambulance asking if it could station a crew in the south side. She is waiting for a response in the meantime to her proposition.
Resources are limited and in some cases “slim to none,” according to Spicer. Most departments in the county are volunteer such is the case with Corning. Others such as New Lexington have full time employees and volunteers. New Straitsville is an all volunteer department along with Shawnee. Other departments in the county are paid departments with some being on stipends per run.
“There’s no volunteers anymore,” Spicer said. “The volunteers we had all now are working for other paid services and no longer there… as EMTs and paramedics.”
It is not uncommon for volunteers at local departments to also have day jobs. However, being a volunteer means sacrificing time. Time that would be better spent getting food on the table for families or having a roof over their heads. This challenge, especially in small communities like Corning, poses a dangerous risk as locals would have a better option of driving to a medical center rather than calling for and ambulance.
Spicer’s hope is to get full coverage for the southern part of the region. Talking with other entities, it may be a lengthy process before assistance can be made.
“With me talking with Community Ambulance… I know New Straitsville is willing to give them a place to house there vehicle to be in the southern part of the county,” Spicer stated. “Longterm… I would see the three entities to come together to decide what they want to do for EMS coverage.”