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Lincoln County volunteer rescue squad to close

By Bora Kim
WCNC-TV

Lincolnton A local rescue squad is in the midst of their very own emergency.

Starting Monday, The Lincoln County Lifesaving Crew will not be allowed to assist first responders.

Dr. Dan Koch, the group’s board president, delivered a resignation letter on Thursday stating that “as foreseen for months, the LCLSC will be closed for business as of 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, April 28, 2013. LCLSC will no longer be available for any emergency response calls after that time.”

The Lifesaving Crew has been serving Lincolnton, North Hwy. 321, and part of Howard’s Creek Union and Crouse Fire Districts since 2009. The county has said service will not be disrupted.

But volunteer EMT Ben Frye told WCNC-TV, the Observer’s news partner, that about 15 members are ready to fight the decision to close the rescue squad. Many are outraged and said four of the eight members on the board who approved the decision did not inform everyone who would be affected.

Frye acknowledged that the organization has had numerous changes in leadership and was dealing with several internal issues, including meeting the demands of the contract.

“It’s not that they just gave up,” Frye said. “The information handed to them, they felt it was the best thing they could do, but it was a big step for four people to shut down a rescue squad that has been around since 1957.”

The group has since hired an attorney, who sent a response by way of a letter. It stated the board violated bylaws, failing to gain majority approval, and going behind the backs of members.

Frye said the county is refusing to acknowledge receipt of the letter and they have been told the resignation stands. Existing members plan to hold a meeting to decide to proceed with a class action lawsuit.

Lincoln County EMS Director Ronald Rombs said in no way will service be disrupted. Rombs said the county has been working with the organization for a year and a half to improve job performance, especially in terms of answering calls.

“In the last five days, there were 28 calls for service and they responded to three,” he said.

Rombs said that compared to year’s past, volunteers just don’t have the time. “The volunteers didn’t have the availability,” he said. “The need was still there and the department started putting on paid staff to do that.”

Frye believes they still have a chance.

“Without the crews as dedicated as the ones here today, I do believe we can get this back,” he said.

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