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Ohio County Expands EMS Services To Full Time

Photo by Joselyn King Ohio County Commissioner Don Nickerson, left, and Commission President Randy Wharton consider issues during Tuesday’s commission meeting.

WHEELING — Ohio County soon will employ a 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week emergency squad.

County commissioners voted Tuesday night to expand the county emergency squad after being requested to do so by volunteer fire departments in the county.

The service will start as soon as staff can be hired, according to Commission President Randy Wharton.

At present, two county paramedics are on duty each weekday from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. to assist the volunteer squads. The part-time county squad began operation in January 2020, and responds when volunteer squads are not available.

“We have talked about this endlessly at fire chiefs meetings, and we have talked about this quite a bit at the county commission level,” Commission President Randy Wharton said. “I’m in favor of making sure we approve this.”

Wharton and Commissioner Don Nickerson voted in favor of the expansion. Commissioner Zach Abraham had an emergency and arrived at the meeting shortly after the vote.

“This is the best thing. What they did is huge,” said West Liberty Fire Department Chief Bob Fallor. “This supports us, and narrows response time.

“It’s a win-win for everybody.”

Wheeling Fire Chief Jim Blazier was among those present, and he said it won’t only be the volunteer squads who will benefit from the county EMS expansion.

“It will be a big advantage for us in the city, as well,” he said. “When our units are all busy, we rely on them (the volunteers) for backup. Now we know the level of service being received.

“This will help everyone — even those in the city.”

Ohio County Emergency Management Agency Director Lou Vargo said the move will provide 24-hour advanced life support to county residents similar to what is put forth in Wheeling.

“It’s a team approach to providing advanced life support throughout the county,” he explained. “The Ohio County EMS will respond hand in hand with the volunteer fire departments in the county.”

Also during Tuesday’s commission meeting, Wharton was tapped to continue serving as commission president, while Abraham was voted in as vice president.

Nickerson most recently served as vice president. But prior to the meeting Tuesday night he learned his appointment as judge on the new West Virginia Intermediate Court of Appeals was approved by state lawmakers, and he will be sworn in to the job as soon as May 1. Upon taking the bench, Nickerson must resign his commission seat.

Commissioners also re-appointed Russell as county administrator, Don Tennant as solicitor and Russell Escue as director of the Wheeling-Ohio County Airport.

Commissioners next meet at 6 p.m. on Jan 25 at the City-County Building, 1500 Chapline St., Wheeling.

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