Commission to consider funding request from Star City EMS

MORGANTOWN — The Monongalia County Commission will consider a funding request from Star City Volunteer Fire Department EMS that would allow the agency to outfit its ambulances with mobile CAD, or computer aided dispatch, hardware.
John Hitchens, EMS administrator for the Star City VFD, asked the commission to consider providing funds in an amount not to exceed $14,500.
That amount, he explained, would provide the necessary equipment, mounting hardware, warranties and software licensing for four ambulances.
Star City will join with the newly constituted Mon EMS — the result of an ongoing merger between Mon EMS and WVU Hospitals Health Team Critical Care Transport — in responding to calls based solely on ambulance location.
The Mon EMS/Health Team merger is expected to be complete by the spring and represents a shift away from the longstanding practice of putting EMS providers on a priority call list.
But the equipment isn’t cheap, particularly for a volunteer fire department, Hitchens said.
“This equipment does allow MECCA to view and dispatch vehicles via the GPS system, providing the closest ambulance responds,” Hitchens said, explaining that “We appreciate your effort to allow us to be able to do this, because we certainly wouldn’t be able to with the financial constraints that we’re under.”
The commission agreed to take up the request next week, noting a previous commitment to assist the volunteer departments participating in the revamped EMS program.
Hitchens said Star City VFD responded to more than 1,300 calls last year, which was tops in the county. He said Star City EMS crews responded to more than 3,800 calls.
According to Hitchens, the agency spent the last nine months pulling together $114,000 to purchase a new ambulance, which arrived Monday.
In other commission news, upgrades to the county’s OpenGov website — monongaliacountywv.opengov.com — went live on Feb. 1.
The new features give users more ability to parse the available data and refine searches.
The county became the first in the state to embrace the financial transparency website touted by State Auditor J.B. McCuskey last August.
“We immediately decided that we needed an upgrade because you can be transparent and just throw a bunch of information out there, but we needed it to be more transparent, and that’s what we did with this upgrade,” Commissioner Sean Sikora said.
County Clerk Carye Blaney said her office received a Freedom Information Act Request the same day the site went live that would have previously tied up personnel in her office for several hours. Instead, she explained, all the requested information was available on the site.
Also on Wednesday:
— The commission heard from WVU’s Rob Alsop and Ron Justice regarding ongoing efforts aimed at pedestrian safety.
— Announced that Rotary Clubs from Monongalia and Preston counties will be collecting food at The Dominion Post from 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. Saturday in order to help restock pantries hit hard during the recent partial government shutdown.
Food can also be dropped at the Save-A-Lot in Kingwood during those same hours.
— Commission President Tom Bloom said the Pantry Plus More program will open its 11th school pantry at 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 12 in Mountaineer Middle School. This will be the third school pantry funded by Ali Baba owner Elias Hishmeh.
The program provides students with confidential access to food and hygiene products.
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