WEST (July 1, 2013)--While the West Volunteer Fire Department has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations in the aftermath of the deadly April 17 fertilizer plant explosion, West Emergency Medical Services hasn’t been so fortunate.
The director of the West Emergency Medical Services, Tom Marek, says many donors have assumed the two departments were actually one and that has hurt the EMS in its effort to recover from the effects of the blast.
The EMS headquarters is just two blocks from the blast site and the entire complex was including the building’s contents.
Two ambulances were damaged.
While insurance will help replace the building, the ambulances and contents were under-insured.
“The national media when they first came in portrayed us as being part of the West Fire Department,” Marek said.
As a result, West EMS continues to make do in a temporary office and with limited resources.
“West ambulance has kind of been left out because of it. And you can see what we got left, just an empty slab, an empty slab,” he said.
Marek has been in EMS work for 24 years and says the department is struggling financially.
Less than $100,000 has been given to West EMS, which needs nearly $300,000 to replace equipment, training materials and the radio system, Marek said.
Presently the EMS service is down to one ambulance.
“We don't want much, we want what we had prior to the blast,” Marek said.
“West EMS is a privately run non-profit and depends on donations and collections from ambulance runs.
Marek said the medical service is crucial and must fully recover.
“Without it these people are in trouble, they can't even get to the hospital,” he said.