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  • Writer's pictureBill Raines

Pleasant Run Township Fire Department Taken Off 911 Dispatch This Weekend Reinstated

HELTONVILLE - JUNE 14, 2022 - The Pleasant Run Township Volunteer Fire Department was taken off 911 dispatch over the weekend and according to Lawrence County Sheriff Mike Branham have been reinstated on Tuesday afternoon.

Pleasant Run Volunteer Fire Department responds to people trapped in their home near Heltonville

According to Lawrence County Sheriff Mike Branham he was contacted by Pleasant Run Township Trustee Michaael Nicholson to remove Pleasant Run Township from 911 dispatch as they have fire contracts with Marshall Township and Shawswick Township to provide fire protection.

" We have learned that the Pleasant Run Township still has an active contract with Pleasant Run Township to provide fire protection. Any action by the township must be done properly before Pleasant Run Firefighters are removed from the 911 dispatch. In addition, I have sent out letters to all Lawrence County Township Trustees to give us updated fire contracts with their respective fire departments, so this situation does not arise again,"

Pleasant Run Township or advisory board did not notify the public or hold public hearings in regard to the decision by township officials to seek fire protection from other fire departments. By Indiana State law the township officials must give the public ten days' notice of any changes to the fire contract.

Pleasant Run Township volunteer firefighters was not notified by the township officials or Lawrence County Sheriff's Department of these developments until they were not being dispatched to emergency calls in their township on Saturday morning.

" We are reviewing the situation and verifying factual information from a dispatch perspective, said Valarie Luchauer Lawrence County Emergency Management and Lawrence County 911 Operations. Luchauer referred any other questions to Lawrence County Sheriff Mike Branham.

Pleasant Run Township Trustee Mike Nicholson says the fire department has been in violation of two areas of their contract. Those two areas include a yearly financial report and failed to provide a department inventory of equipment.

Nicholson says he plans to meet with the department to give the residents more say of the fire department. The ongoing internal issues and concerns from the public over the fire department was reason to look at revamping the department.

" We will hold a public hearing on the fire department at a future date, after we conduct a private meeting with the fire department members and address our concerns," said Nicholson.

Nicolson has provided a stipend to both Marshall Township and Shawswick Township $3,000 each to cover fuel costs. Nicholson also has not determined at this time whether to join the proposed Shawswick/Guthrie Township Fire Territory.

Fire protection is one of the largest responsibilities that a township government has in the State of Indiana.

Pleasant Run Volunteer Fire Department responds to a large barn fire on Todd Lane last year

There was no public notice from the Lawrence County 911 Board to remove Pleasant Run Township for the county's 911 system as required by Public Access Law.

Over the weekend both Marshall and Shawswick Township Volunteer Fire Departments were dispatched to emergency runs. Pleasant Run Volunteer Fire Department responded to emergency calls without being dispatched by the Lawrence County Central Dispatch to make sure residents were still served by the fire department.

" We continued to respond to calls in our township even though we was not acknowledged by the Lawrence County Dispatch Center. This was the ethical thing we did, as we still hold a binding contract with the township to provide fire protection. We do not have a contract for emergency medical services, but we do that as an added service to our residents The lives of our community comes first and we continue to do what we can to serve the community." said Darin Kinser Fire Chief Pleasant Run Township Volunteer Fire Department.

Response times from both Marshall Township and Shawswick are extended and anyone with a cardiac arrest emergency could die without CPR started within four to ten minutes of the cardiac arrest.

On Monday, Lawrence County was overwhelmed with emergency medical calls with ambulances being summoned from Greene, Orange, and Monroe Counties. Jackson County EMS, who would be closer to the Heltonville area advised Lawrence County they will no longer provide backup ambulance service to Lawrence County. The county's volunteer fire service demands have increased due to the escalating situation with lack of local ambulance coverage.

The Pleasant Run Volunteer Fire Department was the first volunteer fire department started in the county. The department will celebrate 61 years of service to the community this year.

Jackson County EMS told Lawernce County they would no longer respond to Lawrence County for ambulance coverage which is closer to Heltonville when Lawrence County does not have an available ambulance service

Lawrence County volunteer fire departments have been challenged with covering emergency calls since the COVID -19 pandemic. Lawrence County Commissioners refused the volunteer fire departments any kind of financial assistance despite being on the front lines of the pandemic. No fire department in Lawrence County is reimbursed by the township or county government for emergency medical service.

All the Lawrence County volunteer fire being challenged by short staff and increasing amount of EMS calls due to lack of a county ambulance service.

Two other Lawrence County volunteer fire departments has since disbanded over the last several years due to staffing, funding, increased run volumes, and other issues.

The Guthrie Township Volunteer Fire Department was disbanded after former Trustee Robert Awbrey did not renew their fire contract. In addition, Williams Volunteer Fire Department was disbanded after Spice Valley Township Trustee Michelle Cornette decided the fire department could not provide 24/7 coverage and contracted with Indian Creek Township to provide fire protection.

Shawswick Township and Guthrie Township Trustee and advisory boards formed a new fire territory this year; to provide improved fire coverage and provide an ambulance service to its residents.

The new fire territory is expected to start operating January 1, 2023.

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