Thursday, September 7, 2017 Local News The County Times 3 Maryland Donors Warned O’Connor Calls EMS Response Times “Horrible” of Charity Scams in the Wake of Natural Disasters By Guy Leonard Staff Writer As the public demand for donations increase for Hurricane Harvey sur- vivors, many Marylanders may feel compelled to donate. For those that do choose to make a donation to support those in the impacted areas, Maryland Attorney General Brian E. Frosh and Secretary of State John C. Woben- smith advise consumers to be vigilant, and donate wisely. “Sometimes at the end of a storm, you get a rainbow; other times you get a scammer,” said Attorney General Frosh. “It is wise to research the char- ity ﬁ rst before donating, and consum- ers should avoid any charity or fund- raiser that is reluctant to give informa- tion on how donations are used.” “During these times of unfortunate events, individuals will attempt to prey on your generosity and introduce all types of scams, frauds or deceptive acts to line their own pockets,” warns Secretary Wobensmith. “Be sure you know who you are giving to and it is best to give directly to well-estab- lished charitable organizations.” The Ofﬁ ce of the Secretary of State registers and regulates charitable or- ganizations that solicit charitable contributions in Maryland. Together with the Attorney General’s Ofﬁ ce, the Secretary of State’s Ofﬁ ce works to ensure that charitable contributions go to qualiﬁ ed charitable organiza- tions and are used for their intended purpose. For more tips on how to give wisely, please visit the Maryland Attorney General’s Ofﬁ ce, Consumer Protec- tion Division publication Consumer’s Edge Charitable Giving Tips. To ﬁ nd out whether a particular charity is authorized to solicit in Mary- land, the Secretary of State’s Ofﬁ ce maintains a public registry of charita- ble organizations authorized to solicit in Maryland. For more information and to search the registry, please visit the Secretary of State’s charity home page: http://sos.maryland.gov/Charity/ Pages/SearchCharity.aspx. If you feel like you may have been a victim of a deceptive or illegal chari- table solicitation, you should contact the Charities and Legal Services Divi- sion of the Secretary of State’s Ofﬁ ce at 410-974-5521 or 1-800-825-4510. From Christine Tobar, State Attorney General Director of Communications Residents Asked to Remove Basketball Hoops As the outdoor season winds down, the St. Mary’s County Department of Public Works and Transportation reminds residents to remove por- table basketball hoops from public roadways. Portable basketball hoops are similar to portable street hockey nets, skate- board ramps and other similar sports equipment placed within the right-of- way in residential neighborhoods. When complaints are received, the county evaluates whether the en- croachment on the public right-of- way constitutes a danger to public safety. Hazards to vehicle or pedes- trian trafﬁ c, obstructions to the free passage of school buses, mail deliv- eries, street sweeping, refuse collec- tion equipment, snow plows or storm water drainage and obstructions to sight distance objects which represent an inconvenience to others should be removed immediately. An example of an inconvenience to others would be where a portable basketball hoop blocks another person’s driveway or sidewalk accessible path. Portable basketball hoops not re- moved from the right-of-way by the property owner within thirty (30) days of ofﬁ cial notiﬁ cation by the county will be picked up and held at the St. Mary’s County Highways Mainte- nance Facility (located at 44829 St. Andrews Church Road, California, MD). The hoops will be stored for up to 30 days and may be claimed by the owner during this time. At the end 30 days, hoop(s) not claimed by the property owner (who may be respon- sible for any costs incurred), will be discarded. Residents with questions or con- cerns should contact the Department of Public Works and Transportation at 301-475-4200, ext. *3540. From St. Mary’s County PIO During a discussion about possibly raising the ﬁ re and rescue tax for the 2 nd District ﬁ re and rescue company in Valley Lee last week, Commissioner John O’Connor said rescue companies were taking too long to get to patients who needed their help. “Our response times and time to patient care… is horrible,” O’Connor said. “Most of the time we’re in the red. “The only one that is in the green is the Lexington Park Volunteer Rescue Squad.” Two of the county’s top rescue squad ofﬁ cials responsible for over- seeing their operations said the issue of response times and getting patients care quickly was a complex issue they were trying to quantify. “We’ve been compiling data… to see where we are as a system,” said Joe Wilkinson, chairman of the county’s Rescue Squad As- sociation. “There are some rescue squads that have trouble responding.” Wilkinson said that while all 911 calls were important, they were not all of the same level of emergency; calls for trouble breathing, severe injuries, heart attacks and the like are the most serious. However, there are too many callers who use ambulance services for non- emergency medical calls, even the common cold, Wilkinson said. This compounds the problem of re- ducing response times. “They’re taking away from emer- gent care that other people need,” said Wilkinson. Perhaps the biggest problem, aside from a continuing lack of volunteers around the county, Wilkinson said, is the county’s rural character when it comes to rapid emergency response. Paul Sullivan, the county’s rescue chief, agreed. “Response times go with your area,” Sullivan told The County Times. “Most of these [response time] bench- marks come from places like Balti- more City where you have stations one every other block.” Because of the disparate nature of the communities in rural areas like Ridge, where Sullivan runs calls, it simply takes longer to respond to a residence in an ambulance than in a much more compact area. “In Lexington Park you can make your benchmarks because it’s laid out more like a city,” Sullivan said. A round trip response from Ridge to MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital can take between 90 minutes to two hours, Sul- livan said, while the same kind of call for Lexington Park Volunteer Rescue Squad might take just 30 minutes. “If you nitpick all these stations you’ll ﬁ nd their response times are not as good as Lexington Park,” said Sullivan. All the collection and analysis, though, leads to the question as to whether the county will ever have some type of paid service to augment the volunteer units. Both Sullivan and Wilkinson said they hope it never happens; St. Mary’s is virtually 100 percent volunteer and elected leaders have praised volunteers for keeping the county from having to spend millions for a paid system. But Wilkinson said some type of paid service could be necessary given continued growth of the county. “We probably will need some paid help,” Wilkinson said. “Unless we get some more community support.” email@example.com F UEL D ELIVERY . J UMPSTART L OCKOUT . T IRE C HANGE W INCHOUT . L OAD S HIFTS . S TORAGE M OTORCYLE & A CCIDENT T OWING L OCAL & L ONG D ISTANCE 301-737-2636 firstname.lastname@example.org For All Your Towing And Roadside Needs!