Huntington mulls paid ambulance services

The Huntington Community First Aid Squad has been an all-volunteer force for more than 40 years, but reports show that the group was almost twice as likely to request aid from its neighbors than other area fire departments in the first five months of 2015.

The Huntington Community First Aid Squad has been an all-volunteer force for more than 40 years, but reports show that the group was almost twice as likely to request aid from its neighbors than other area fire departments in the first five months of 2015. (10/12/15)

HUNTINGTON - The town of Huntington is mulling whether to add paid staff to augment its volunteer ambulance services.

The Huntington Community First Aid Squad has been an all-volunteer force for more than 40 years, but reports show that the group was almost twice as likely to request aid from its neighbors than other area fire departments in the first five months of 2015.

The same reports show that the squad is understaffed during peak hours.

Town spokesman A.J. Carter says that it may be time to consider hiring paid staff.

"They're terrific volunteers," Carter says. "They do a great job, but times have changed -- demands have changed."

The ambulance squad's vice president, Alyssa Axelrod, says the numbers are deceiving. She says that although her squad has put in more requests for help than neighboring departments, her squad has also responded to a greater number of calls than all of the five nearest departments combined.

Some officials say they're wary of hiring paid staff because if volunteer involvement declined, the town would be left footing the bill for more and more paid workers.

Other proposals include spreading out shifts and adding an extra ambulance during busy hours.

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