Providing standard emergency services in a fast-growing county was the focus of the annual convention of the Carroll County Volunteer Firemen's Association.
The convention, the association's 74th, was held Saturday at the Harney Volunteer Fire Company. About 110 firefighters and guests attended the daylong event.
A series of recommendations aimed at providing uniform emergency services was adopted unanimously by 68 delegates.
As the county works to update its master plan, its blueprint to guide growth, the Firemen's Association is working on its own master plan for emergency services.
The county's master plan includes minimum emergency services requirements, which offer guidelines for response times and fire and emergency medical services (EMS) staffing.
The county and association plans differ slightly. For example, under the county plan, fire and EMS services are adequate if:
* Ninety-five percent of all calls are answered within 12 minutes. The county did not specify how the time is to be measured -- whether, for instance, it would be 12 minutes from the time the 911 call is received until fire or rescue equipment arrives on the scene.
In their recommendations, firefighters envision a five-minute response figured from the time the call is received at the station until equipment leaves the station.
Under recommendations approved by the firefighters, late and "no response" calls (fire and EMS) were to be less than 15 percent, with no responses to be less than 4 percent. A no response occurs when a station receives a call but does not have the manpower to respond and must relay the call to another station.
The firefighters also want fire and EMS responses to be figured separately, to calculate response percentages quarterly and to maintain response percentages for each of the 14 stations.
* Under the county's provisions, four qualified firefighters should be available to staff an engine on a fire call. One paid driver should be in each station.
Firefighters, however, want a minimum of four qualified firefighters, one being a driver.
* The county's requirements call for EMS staffing to be available 10 Zhours a day and include one advanced life support (ALS) and one basic life support (BLS) provider.
Firefighters also want two EMS providers -- one ALS and one BLS -- available 10 hours a day for all stations with an ambulance.
Four stations have two ambulances -- Mount Airy, Westminster, Taneytown and Sykesville -- and would provide staffing for one of those ambulances 24 hours a day.
"The [association's] Emergency Services Master Plan was made in 1980, and we're trying to update it by looking 10 years ahead," said C. Oscar Baker, chairman of the association committee that formed the recommendations.
The firefighters' master plan is based on state requirements, plus the association's recommendations for countywide uniformity, he said.
Baker was to present the association's EMS master plan pro posal to the county Planning Department yesterday.
"The association's master plan will be much more detailed and definitive than the county's master plan," Baker said.
Continued growth has prompted a study of the feasibility of charging for ambulance calls throughout the county.
A joint committee was set up among the county, Firemen's Association, Carroll County Ambulance Association and Carroll County Fire Chief's Association, to study the idea. Fire officials said the study will take several months.
Two fire companies have begun charging for ambulance calls. Other fire companies are studying the possibility.
In other business, it was announced that the county's new emergency communications system is almost ready.
Eugene Curfman, the association's outgoing president, said the tower is finished and the antennas should be hung within two weeks. The tower, he said, should provide communication to 95 percent of the county.
Even when the new system is operational, perhaps as soon as mid-June, Curfman said the Emergency Operations Center will continue to broadcast calls over the old system. The main channels for fire calls are 33.92 and 33.94.
Pub Date: 5/20/97