PORT JEFFERSON – The Perry Port Salem Rescue plans to suspend emergency operations on June 13 due to a lack of volunteers and funding, the squad announced Thursday.
Perry Port Salem Rescue serves Salem, Perry and Green townships in eastern Shelby County, which includes the villages of Port Jefferson and Maplewood plus the unincorporated communities of Pasco, Pemberton and Tawawa. It wasn’t immediately clear who would provide emergency service to those areas once Perry Port Salem Rescue suspends operations as the Perry Port Ambulance Board couldn’t be reached for comment.
Perry Port Salem Rescue Chief Scott Dickman said the squad is down to seven active members. About 10 years ago, it had more than 20 active members.
“Volunteerism has decreased over the past several years requiring an additional workload on the remaining members,” a release from Perry Port Salem Rescue states. “PPS Rescue must start transitioning, like other area departments, to a paid department which requires additional funding from the Ambulance Board.”
Along with declining numbers of volunteers, the release also attributed the impending suspension to a lack of funding from the Perry Port Ambulance Board.
“The Ambulance Board has refused to provide the required funding to slowly transition into a partial paid department,” the release states. “PPS Rescue receives only a portion of the taxpayer money collected for emergency service to the area. PPS Rescue has only asked for 1/3 of the amount that other similar departments in Shelby County require to stay operational.”
Perry Port Salem Rescue’s contract with the Perry Port Ambulance Board previously was scheduled to expire in April. However, the contract was extended for 60 days to allow additional time for negotiations of a new contract. No deal has been reached, however.
Now Perry Port Salem Rescue, which has been in service for 46 years, will suspended operations at 11:59 p.m. June 13.
Once a permanent emergency rescue service is established, Perry Port Salem Rescue plans to turn over its assets to the new service.
“We would like to thank the past volunteers and community members who have supported our efforts over the years,” the release states. “PPS Rescue would also like to thank the surrounding departments: Sidney Fire, Anna Rescue, Rosewood, and Quincy Rescue for providing much needed mutual aid in the past.”
A lack of volunteers for rescue squads isn’t unique to Perry Port Salem Rescue.
The Houston Joint Ambulance District, which provides coverage to portions of Loramie and Washington townships in western Shelby County, has had problems with a lack of volunteers recently as well. In December, the Houston Joint Ambulance District board reached a one-year contract with Spirit EMS to handle emergency calls.
Last week voters approved a property tax levy for the Houston Joint Ambulance District. With the passage of the levy, Spirit will help keep Houston Rescue running and provide employees until enough part-time workers can be hired to staff the ambulances.
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