JOHNSBURG - For the past several months, rumors of turmoil within the Johnsburg Emergency Squad have circulated throughout the community.
A letter to the editor in the Feb. 21 edition of the News Enterprise, submitted by Paul Sears, highlighted some of the controversy within the squad - in particular concern over the status of its volunteer staff. Sears' wife, Tara, was terminated from her paid position as Johnsburg EMS operations manager in the fall of 2008.
Details of her termination have not been made public and at this time she remains a volunteer member of the agency.
Sears has been a key member of the emergency squad for over 15 years and played a central role in its transition from a completely volunteer agency to the incorporation of paid staff several years ago. The transition to paid staffing, and the board's move to appoint Sears as operations manager, was made in an effort to preserve the squad's Advanced Life Support (ALS) certification.
While the key individuals involved in the current controversy agree that the squad must change the way they operate in the future - the nature and texture of these changes has resulted in divisiveness.
Some members privately feel that the squad will eventually be "ripped apart" by the existing turmoil or developed
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into an organization that no longer values the contribution of its volunteer members.
Other members maintain the position that for the squad to continue to function, and progress toward its goals, hard decisions will have to be made in regards to historical practices and personnel.
The Johnsburg Emergency Squad is a private non-profit corporation with a yearly contract to provide EMS service to the town of Johnsburg. Each year the squad receives roughly $60,000 of it's $300,000 operating budget in direct tax funding and another $15-$17,000 in indirect services such as housing, building maintenance, insurance, and utilities.