Emergency squads to talk merger in W'burg, Thurman

ATHOL-With the Thurman Emergency Squad now balking at fulfilling requirements of a 2011 service contract they signed with the town just a few months ago, local officials have urged the squad members to meet with their counterpart agency in Warrensburg and talk about consolidation or a partnership.

On Monday, April 4, the squad's new leadership told the board they couldn't live up to the agreement that stipulated no patient billing, an 80 percent response rate, and no paid employees. The squad leaders asked the board for paid staffing, the ability to institute "soft" billing for services, and for all of their year's $50,000 stipend in advance.

"I implore you, please give this new leadership a chance," newly elected squad president Jean Coulard said.

Officials of the Warrensburg Emergency Squad, which had competed with the Thurman Squad for the contract, were on hand. Although both offered praises for each other, Warrensburg Squad board president Bob Farrell characterized the Thurman group as lagging in equipment, expertise and readiness, charges that caused the Thurman officers to bristle.

Farrell noted that the Warrensburg agency offered full Advanced Life Support services, highly trained paid staffers, and responded to more than 1,000 calls per year. The Thurman squad responds to fewer than 200. Without the opportunity to answer calls on a daily basis, EMTs' expertise might get rusty, Farrell said.

"When they're not responding to calls often, it effects the proficiency at their jobs," he said, suggesting the Thurman squad merge with his agency. "Your members can join our squad now - we have the certification, the ambulances, the equipment, and the crews," he said.

Thurman Town Supervisor Evelyn Wood noted that the Thurman squad had responded to 59 percent of its calls since the contract was signed, and other area squads, including Warrensburg's, were responding for those Thurman missed.

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