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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

Marion Township Volunteer Department Provides Data on COVID Responses

MITCHELL - (January 18, 2022) - Following the Lawrence County Zephyr Editorial yesterday the Marion Township Volunteer Fire Department Chief Paul Gillespie wanted to provide data to the public on how their department was impacted by COVID.

The department is upset that Lawrence County officials ignored the front-line emergency personnel during the COVID pandemic that still continues.

According to Gillespie the Marion Township Volunteer First Responders were dispatched to 819 EMS calls. 209 of those calls were confirmed cases of COVID. This was 25.5 percent of the EMS call volume was confirmed cases.

Gillespie told Lawrence County Zephyr that 19 out of 36 firefighters were quarantined since January 1, 2020, until present with 12 of those firefighters with confirmed cases of COVID. There were 6 of those 19 firefighters quarantined more than twice due to exposure to COVID.


Marion Township requested CARES Act Funds from Lawrence County Emergency Management Director Valarie Luchauer for Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus which was covered under the guidance for CARES Act Funds. Luchauer who was the liaison between the Lawrence County Commissioners and those requesting CARES Act Funding.

Since COVID was a respiratory illness the SCBA's fell under the proper guidance for distributing those funds.

Marion Township Volunteer Fire Department's request was for a minimum of 12 SCBA air packs and masks to go with them, or up to 22 packs. The original request was at $81,600 for 12 packs and masks.


However, the Lawrence County Commissioners decided that the guidelines for distribution funds was to go for payroll and Luchuaer's request to give county employees a stipend after the county employees did not receive a pay raise in 2020.

The Lawrence County Commissioners did authorize Lawrence County Sheriff's request for a transport van and police car after the Lawrence County denied Branham's request for three police cars.

" We thought we was well within the guidance of CARES Act funding when we made our requesting and for county officials to change the rules is perplexing," said Gillespie.

Other non-profits including both North Lawrence Community Schools and Mitchell Community School Corporation who already received CARES Act and ARP funding was given funding through the Lawrence County Government.

The county's ten volunteer fire department emergency medical personnel have been responding to an increase in EMS responses due to COVID as well as the lack of ambulances in the county. Some departments waiting more than 30 -40 minutes for out of county ambulances to arrive and transport patients.

There have been some cases were departments had to use Self Contained Breathing Apparatus to access patients.

Lawrence County Zephyr will continue to follow developments in this story.

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