By RICK HEAD Publisher HICKOX — What defines a quality EMS system is rooted in local experience. And, as five volunteer fire department chiefs and EMA Director Michelle Lee explained, it’s all about the care and well-being of the citizens they serve. All six were in unison that may be lost if county officials were to change over to privatization of services. A common complaint with private for-profit models is a lack of accountability and transparency. Performance data may not be accessible, followup on complaints and inquiries may be inconsistent, and financial oversight is often limited. This can result from community leaders not having a clear appreciation of EMS or what’s needed for their community. “We do a lot of things without charging the county for our time,” said Waynesville chief Jack Cathcart. “If they (commissioners) privatize then things could change. A private company may not do the things we do.

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