THURMAN -- The town emergency squad shut its doors Thursday without notifying Warren County or town officials.
The Thurman squad has spent two years in a funding battle with Supervisor Evelyn Wood and the Town Board, strife that was exacerbated in 2011 when Thurman EMS lost its certification for the most urgent emergencies.
Thurman EMS President Jean Coulard said Thursday the squad’s few remaining members voted Wednesday night to shutter the doors and stop responding to calls.
“For all practical purposes, we’re closed,” Coulard said.
But the county department that decides which squad responds to emergency calls hadn’t heard about the squad’s move until contacted by The Post-Star.
“We’ve been making phone calls trying to confirm it,” said Amy Drexel, the county’s deputy director of Emergency Services.
The squad’s decision not to notify local officials means Thurman EMS remained Thursday the on-call responding agency for health emergencies in Thurman. County dispatchers wait six minutes before calling a neighboring squad if the official local agency doesn’t respond.
The squad’s lack of communication amounted to an act that could have “endangered somebody’s life,” Drexel said.
The squad is working on the dissolution paperwork, Coulard said.
Coulard took direct aim at Wood while explaining the squad’s sudden decision to dissolve. The Town Board defunded Thurman EMS in its 2013 budget.
“What this woman has created in this town, it’s unbelievable,” Coulard said.
Wood, chairwoman of the Warren County Board of Supervisors Public Safety Committee, was also caught off-guard when asked Thursday about her town’s sudden lack of emergency medical coverage.
“We’ve been trying to get them into negotiations,” she said. “We’ve had meetings with them to work out alternatives. It hasn’t gone anywhere.”
Thurman in 2011 contracted with Warrensburg EMS, because the Thurman squad couldn’t keep up with the volume of calls.
Warrensburg EMS pulled its bid to cover the community in 2012 after the town offered substantially less funding than squad leaders wanted. Warrensburg EMS absorbed a loss in 2011 when responding to Thurman calls.
Thurman EMS owes the town more than $750 for fuel, Wood said.
“We blame the town completely and so do most of the town’s people,” Coulard said.
Town and county officials scrambled Thursday to figure out what to do next.
“We’re keeping an eye on the situation,” Wood said. “We have a couple options.”