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FM squad mining IL for donations

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By Jesef Williams

INDIAN LAND - Indian Land residents should be aware that their financial support of a nearby rescue squad will not benefit them at all.

For years, the Fort Mill Rescue Squad in York County has sent letters and placed phone calls to Panhandle citizens, asking for money to improve protective services, said Lanny Bernard, Lancaster County Emergency Medical Services director.

But if you are a Lancaster County resident who's been solicited, you should know that your contribution is supporting a rescue squad that doesn't even respond to incidents that happen here, Bernard said. None of the money goes to the Indian Land Rescue Squad.

The Fort Mill Rescue Squad contracts with a company that sends out these letters. Bernard said that personnel from the rescue squad have maintained for years that Indian Land residents were included because that area shared a ZIP code with Fort Mill - 29715, making it hard to differentiate.

But since Indian Land was given its own ZIP code - 29707 - last year, there should be no more confusion, Bernard said.

"People in Indian Land need to know that if they get a letter (from Fort Mill Rescue Squad), they don't need to donate," Bernard said. "I'm concerned about collecting money from Indian Land citizens when they don't provide services."

Bernard said the Fort Mill Rescue Squad hasn't serviced Indian Land for at least 13 years. He said he's talked to Mark Garrick, the rescue squad's captain, about this issue several times, but the calls and letters keep coming in.

Judy Fuller, who lives in Legacy Park, has received about three phone calls from someone asking for contributions for the Fort Mill Rescue Squad. Fuller, who's never given any money, was always aware that the Fort Mill Rescue Squad didn't service Indian Land. She believed the continued solicitation was a result of the ZIP code confusion.

"I think that's not fair," Fuller said. "Our Indian Land fire department is very underfunded and we need funding. We don't need to be solicited by them."

The letters don't mention anything about Indian Land or Lancaster County.

And nowhere does it let residents know that the rescue squad doesn't service the area, Bernard said.

A recent letter sent to an Indian Land resident read, "We come to you at this time of year asking for your financial support so we may continue to provide top quality Rescue Service to our community..."

"They shouldn't have been doing it all along," Bernard said. "The excuse they've been using for years is no longer valid."

Garrick could not be reached for comment.

Contact Jesef Williams at 283-1152 or jwilliams@thelancasternews.com