A petition has started requesting the Rhome City Council reinstate the EMS/first responder position.
The position, which had just been created five months earlier, was cut during approval of the city’s budget on Sept. 12 by a 3-2 vote.
Mayor Chris Moore urged the council to allow the position to remain for a year before cutting it. But the majority voted to de-fund it, saying the city could not afford it. The job will officially come to an end on Oct. 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year.
Dee Romine hopes she can convince the council to change their mind and reinstate the position.
“I’m concerned about the well-being of the citizens in Rhome,” she said. “I’m trying to get the first responder position back.
“I live just outside city limits, and whenever we’ve had calls out here, the first people to arrive at the scene were the Rhome Volunteer Fire Department… The first responder can respond to calls within 5 minutes compared to about 10 minutes for Wise County Medics. That can be the difference between life and death.”
The city created the position earlier this year because the fire department had trouble finding volunteers who were in town during normal working hours. Several emergency calls had gone unanswered by the local volunteer fire department.
It cost the city $35,000 plus benefits, out of a $2.65 million budget, and $18,000 had been relocated from the fire department budget to cover the newly-salaried position.
“I am starting this petition on behalf of city and county residents,” Romine said. “We don’t have any volunteers in town during the day without the paid position… and I am deeply concerned about the health and welfare of the citizens of Rhome.”
She also said the first responder position helped the city’s ISO rating.
Romine plans to present the petition to the city council at the next regular meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, at Rhome City Hall.