In a surprise move, the Madison County Board of Supervisors notified the Madison County Rescue Squad (MCRS) last week that the memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two was being terminated for cause.
The MOU was signed in late November of last year following months of discussions between the two entities. The document combined MCRS with Madison Emergency Medical Services (MEMS), commonly referred to as the county’s paid squad, under the leadership of director Noah Hillstrom. The county was to pick up the maintenance of equipment and pass revenue recovery funds to the volunteer squad for basic life support calls. The county was to also continue to contribute the annual $100,000 allocation to MCRS subject to availability and appropriation of funds beyond the first year. Virginia Office of Emergency Medical Services certified squad volunteers would dually affiliate with MEMS and would need to be conditionally approved by Hillstrom and the county operational medical director before being cleared to respond to calls. The MOU became effective Dec. 1.
However, in a letter sent to MCRS officials last Thursday evening, the MOU isn’t being followed. County attorney Sean Gregg wrote that the agreement was in significant breach, putting the lives of Madison County residents at risk and the county would be ending its relationship with MCRS.
Violations of the MOU listed in the letter include a lack of available ambulances in service; staffing and competency issues including failure to provide the required staffing report to the county by the 20th of each month. Not taking advantage of training opportunities and the failing of skill drills for basic life support. According to the letter, of the volunteers who took the test, only four successfully completed it and as of Aug. 10, only four members were eligible to run calls with just one being a released EMT. The letter also states that an unqualified rescue squad was in service at the Independence Day event at Graves Mountain Farm and Lodges though none of the members present were qualified to administer basic life support or drive in the event of an actual emergency. In addition, at the motocross event at Graves, MCRS personnel “failed to provide effective resource management or situational awareness” when a participant injured their leg. At the Madison County Fair, MCRS members allegedly displayed a lack of professionalism by drying pants on the ambulance hood, allowed an ambulance to be boxed in, stood around a patient eating ice cream while only one EMT provided service and got into a loud verbal disagreement amongst each other.
The letter also states that volunteers have not provided consent forms in relation to their vaccination status (seven have provided proof of vaccination) and only three have submitted declination forms. Volunteers are also allegedly not filling their roster assignments.
The letter goes on to state that only two MCRS members are eligible to run calls and members haven’t maintained their credentials.
“In conclusion, these deficiencies are to the point where the only remedy is the dissolution of the Madison County Rescue Squad as an operating entity providing medical services in Madison County,” Gregg wrote. “This decision is made with regret, but the continued needs of the Madison County citizens take precedence over the historical presence that the [MCRS] has had. Madison County remains thankful and grateful for the years of service, but the time has passed for the [MCRS] to stop serving as an emergency services provider in the county.”
According to the MOU, termination of the agreement requires a 90-day written notice. MCRS President Steve Grayson said the squad has contact its attorney and will be releasing a statement in the near future.