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County appeals Right-to-Know decision on EMS request

Published March 22. 2012 05:01PM

Carbon County has appealed an order issued by the state Right-to-Know office (RTKL) to provide a Lehighton with the county's emergency response system records.

Ryan Bowman, of 607 Gypsy Hill, filed a request, by fax, to the county seeking 9-1-1 dispatch records for the Mahoning Valley Ambulance Association-EMS Station 6, for total dispatches from 2004-2012, broken down year by year. He also requested "scratched" calls from 2004-2012, broken down year by year, and "omit addresses, and personal information."

In a letter dated Jan. 25 to Bowman, the county denied his request stating, "The county is unable to fill your request; therefore, your request is denied." The letter then cites a section of the law and adds, "We are not required to create a record which does not currently exist."

The letter from the county to Bowman also tells him he has a right to appeal its decision to the Right-to-Know office in Harrisburg and gives him the name of the executive director of the office and mailing address.

Bowman did appeal his request but changed it, the county appeal notes, in adding that the county is required to submit monthly reports of statistical data from all county emergency provides to the Eastern EMS Council and the state Department of Health for complying statistical data.

The county countered in its appeal that although it does submit such monthly reports, the data is not broken down by individual EMS units or station, but is a countywide total.

The county also charges that the state commission erred in requiring the county to provide the information submitted to the Eastern EMS Council and state agency, because Bowman changed his original request, and the county still cannot provide the specific records requested.

In its appeal the county states the RTKL does not pertain to requests for raw information or data, "but rather, is limited to requests for specific, existing public records; it does not require agencies to create new records or to compile, maintain, format, summarize or organize information into lists, spreadsheets, or other forms in which it does not currently exits."

The county asks the county court to reverse the RTKL office order and rule that the county's original response in denying the request be affirmed.

The appeal was filed by the county's solicitor, Atty. Daniel Miscavige. Bowman is representing himself in the matter.

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