In Sept. 23 IssueBy Kim GrahamTimes Journal Reporter
At its second special called meeting in less than a week, the Russell County Ambulance Board named Terry Hancock director of EMS.
Hancock, an 18 year veteran EMT and former interim director, was one of three applicants interviewed Tuesday in a closed session.
Board members reconvened and voted, 2 - 0 with Board Chairman James Gray abstaining from the vote to appoint Hancock as director.
"I'm glad we've finally appointed a director," said Gray. "The future of the service has been put on hold and now hopefully, we can move forward and do some things we need to do."
Last Thursday, the board voted to also fill three part-time EMT positions hiring Jordan Russell, Zach Burton, and Kelly Robertson.
"At a previous meeting, we were asked to fill an EMT full time position and we all agreed not to do that to try to save on money," said Board Chairman James Gray. "You've got so many hours to fill and these folks will just be helping fill those they're not costing us anything more."
The financially strapped EMS received funds last week from Russell County Fiscal Court to meet payroll and other expenses.
"We presented the fiscal court our financial situation and they were gracious enough to give us $45,000 to be able to make payroll next week and pay all the bills that we had outstanding," Gray said at a board meeting last Thursday.
Board members agree that funding 911 Dispatch is the source of most of the financial burden.
The board previously voted to dissolve the interlocal agreement governing 911 operations and to end funding of the program.
With less than one month to go until the October 18th deadline, the board discussed at length possible outcomes and plans of action.
"If 911 dispatch ceases to exist here in a few days, how do people call an ambulance," asked Gray. "I guess that's the same thing Russell Springs, Jamestown and everybody else is trying to figure out."
Board members suggested advertising a new ambulance service telephone number and manning phones possibly with part-time workers if 911 dispatch ceases to exist.
Gray said both mayors from Jamestown and Russell Springs would like to meet and discuss possible funding options.
"Maybe we can all sit down and figure this out," board member Mike Popplewell said at last week's meeting. "I think that's what needs to be done and it needs to be done in a hurry."
Tuesday afternoon, Chairman Gray, two fiscal court magistrates, both mayors, a city council member from each city, and EMS staff met to discuss a possible resolution to 911 funding.
"There was a proposal put on the table that the City of Jamestown and Russell Springs would each put in $2,000 a month," said Gray. "The ambulance service was asked would we put in $2,000 a month and the Fiscal Court suggested that they might put in up to $4,500 a month."
He said each one of the governing bodies, including the ambulance board, will have to vote on whether or not to implement the proposal.
The board discussed benefits and concerns of supporting to the recommendation.
"We'll go and look at and see how the proposal reads and then we'll go from there," said board member Leslie Simpson.
The board did agree they would be willing to contribute to funding 911 dispatch along with the other local municipalities.
"I'll pass on to them that we're okay with the $2,000 a month but we've still got concerns and questions about whatever else is going to be in the agreement and then we can go from there," said Gray.
If implemented, the proposal is a short term solution until a better option becomes available in the future, he added.
"If this comes to be there's going to have to some kind of formal agreement signed by each entity," said Gray. "We're a long way from signing anything."
• The board voted to accept the paramedic pay scale as presented and agreed to take previous experience into consideration when setting pay for new hires. The Paramedic entry level pay scale is as follows: $12 to start, in 6 mo $12.25, 12 mo $12.50, 18 mo $12.75, and 24 mo. $13.00.
• Board Attorney Jeff Loy filed a response to a lawsuit filed by James S. Faller II and Amy Mischler. Loy said a special judge, Judge Douglas George from Springfield, has been appointed to preside over the case. Any motions from the board can be filed by September 28th. He said a motion was filed to force Russell County Fiscal Court to transfer 911 to the State Police and a motion for depositions.
"The case is going to the next phase of the process," Loy said. "We do have a special judge and there will be some motions heard on the September 28th.