HEMSI Making Changes

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - HEMSI, the non-profit emergency services provider for Madison County, is making some changes in the new year. Chief Operating Officer Don Webster says two HEMSI special units are being moved to other agencies. The moves involve the HEMSI Dive Team and High Altitude Rough Terrain (HART) Team.

Members of the dive team will now fall under the umbrella of the Huntsville-Madison County Rescue Squad. HART members will work with the Huntsville Cave Rescue Unit. Both teams are made up entirely of volunteers.  The divers are often called in to search for missing boaters and fishermen. They also assist local law enforcement with body and evidence recovery.

The HART volunteers are most often called in the event of a cliff or cave rescue. However, Webster says Huntsville Fire and Rescue and Madison/Huntsville Heavy Rescue Squad already handle most of the calls. The important thing, he says, is "no citizen of Huntsville, Madison County or North Alabama is going to suffer" because the services will still be available.

HEMSI also has a third special team, the Search Dog Unit. That will remain under the auspices of HEMSI and is budgeted with the agency for the next six months. Webster says the goal of the changes is to refocus HEMSI on its main mission - providing emergency medical services to more than 350,000 people in Madison County.