South Boston Fire Department pursuing EMS license

Fire chief anticipates having license by end of July

SOUTH BOSTON, Va. – Controlling the future of the South Boston Fire Department.

"We just need to ensure we control our own license so that when it comes time to renew that license we'll be able to do so," South Boston Fire Chief Steve Phillips said.

Phillips said having an EMS license would allow the department to respond to EMS calls even if the county's fire commission, which oversees the county's fire departments, loses its EMS license.

"We will be doing exactly the same thing that we've always done. We run about 1,869 medical calls a year," Phillips said.​

Phillips expects to get a license by July 31.

Problems during a routine re-licensing inspection of the fire commission earlier this year have the commission on a temporary sixth-month license, but that could be lost if the problems aren't fixed by the end of July.

The state Office of Emergency Medical Services does the inspections and said the problems are fairly common.

"I don't feel that there are concerns at the provider level, (with the people) in the back of the ambulance answering the call. These deficiencies that require the provisional license are paperwork and records keeping issues," OEMS regulation and compliance division manager Ron Passmore said.

If the commission loses the license -- and fire departments can't provide EMS service -- that means help might be delayed for people in medical distress.

That extra time could be the difference between life and death.

Halifax County Emergency Management coordinator Steve Dishman is working with the fire commission to address the problems.

"I feel like, in general, yes they will," Dishman said when asked if he thought all of the problems will get fixed by July 31.

If the license is renewed, it will be good for 18 more months.

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