WHITEVILLE, NC (WECT) – Lake Waccamaw's mayor asked Columbus County commissioners Monday night to award an EMS contract to the town. But that would require the county to end its arrangement with the non-profit group that currently responds to EMS calls around the lake.
It's the latest development in a long-running feud between the Town of Lake Waccamaw and the Lake Waccamaw Fire and Rescue Auxiliary.
The auxiliary has continued to respond to EMS calls following a rift that culminated with the town removing the long-time fire chief.
Lake Waccamaw is working to re-open the fire department, and Mayor Daniel Hilburn said the town has recruited 36 volunteers.
If the county contracts with Lake Waccamaw for EMS, the town would work to increase the level of service from intermediate level to paramedic, the mayor explained.
"If you exercise this right, the town is willing to bear that burden to put 24-hour coverage in that building," Hilburn said.
The mayor claims the auxiliary is essentially acting as a private ambulance company whose members are focused on making money. It's a charge Auxiliary Chief Eddy Morgan disputes, explaining his crews get only a small reimbursement for each call they respond to.
"I would challenge anybody to get up out of their bed, get up from a Thanksgiving dinner, run and spend two or three hours with a patient…for 25-dollars a call," Morgan said.
Commissioners didn't want to act on Hilburn's proposal without first knowing more about an ongoing lawsuit involving the Town of Lake Waccamaw and the auxiliary. The board instructed County Attorney Mike Stephens to investigate the matter.
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