AMBULANCE MEETING MINUTES
7 March 2022
Chairman David Wamble opened the meeting asking Tommy Pollard to offer a prayer and lead the pledge. Minutes of 28 January 2022 were motioned for approval by Joyce Woodard, seconded by Tommy Pollard, and were approved.
First Agenda Item – Ambulance Salaries. Chairman Wamble asked County Executive Melissa Greene to discuss options she and others have researched to recruit and retain ambulance employees. In light of salary competition from other counties, several options were mentioned for ambulance employees. Currently some temporary “fixes” have been put into place, e.g. drivers who can only drive, not provide medical services. This type fix was approved by state, is not a long-term fix (has expiration date) and the drivers themselves have other full-time jobs. Other counties also provide ambulance service within Giles County when needed and is possible (considering their own workload). Currently out of five, Giles County has only two ambulances fully staffed and available for operation this month, due to the employee shortage.
Melissa provided two options for consideration. Handouts were provided on each. First option is a salary increase for current staffing, and for budgetary purposes for next year, an estimate on vacancies taking a “middle road” possibility of filling. That would increase the bottom line for next budget year of $435K. However, that number would only be competitive for one year with the likely possibility of other counties also raising their employee salaries. The second option, and one which could provide Giles County with a hiring advantage for future employees, as well as provide the current employees with a well-earned break due to burnout from past two years of dealing with COVID among other challenges, is 24 hours on and off 72 hours. Current scheduling is 24 on and off 48. The proposed 24-72 would retain the same pay, which in itself provides a pay increase per hours worked. Currently only one other nearby county works this same schedule 24-72, although they also include their fire-fighters.
Melissa furthered stated that she wanted to do something before the budget process which should help with retention now and would go into effect, if approved, by 1 July 2022. Tim Risner raised the question of who had been involved in the preliminary discussions, and was answered by Melissa with Department Head and Supervisors within the Ambulance Department. Chairman Wamble was also involved in the discussion prior to this meeting. Brad Butler asked about funding to cover this and it was stated that the increased cost would be for 3 new employees (24-72 new scheduling leaving a gap for 3 people), as well as other costs such as fuel increases, and that cost would be approximately $230K. Increased revenue from additional ambulance calls would cover some of that cost, but with the ambulance service critical, the cost of that service is never fully recouped with additional revenue required from the county. If this option is approved, it is expected that four ambulances could be staffed. That would mean additional staff would become available due to the attractive work schedule. A motion by Brad Butler and seconded by Duane Jones was made to hire three additional people. Mike Cesarini noted that in the county’s strategy session that the schools were identified as the county’s number one priority, and suggested a new approach to the ambulance service should be considered, i.e. privatization (done by some other counties), or work as a regional service using other counties ambulances. He further noted the ambulance service writes off more than $1M a year. Melissa stated that those meetings had taken place, specifically mentioning Maury County, and said they are in the same condition for staffing. Melissa noted that for our current employees to make a livable wage, they have to work overtime, in essence having to work more hours to make wages competitive with other organizations here in Giles County working only 40 hours. EMTs require a certain amount of training to qualify, sometimes paying for that training out of their own pocket, with that being so many hours a month training and lasting over a period of 6 – 8 months. Fast Food training it was noted is typically a few hours only. Re privatizing concerns about profit not being enough, and the companies running the ambulances until unusable, were raised, with the county having to take the service back again after a couple of years. After much discussion, the motion was approved. Melissa did state that the budget might not need to be changed until 2022-2023 based on when the additional people were needed/hired.
Old Business – Question on status of the Baptist building was raised but no new info at this time, still in process. Appraised value of the building and property is $800k
Chairman Wamble took this opportunity to mention an upcoming meeting on insurance, stating that the Financial Management office has hired a broker and the Human Resource Manager will be responsible within the office. A new meeting will be called. Melissa provided information on a 22 March meeting at OEM, on water, storm water, where TDEC will be coming. While not a commissioner meeting, she said all invited.
David Adams motioned to adjourn. Terry Harwell seconded. Motion approved.
Attendees: Chairman David Wamble, Joyce Woodard, Joseph Sutton, Duane Jones, Brad Butler, Terry Harwell, and David Adams/Other Commissioners Mike Cesarini, Rodney Journey, Larry Worsham, Gayle Jones, Tim Risner, Stoney Jackson, Rose Brown, Tracy Wilburn, Judy Pruett/Other County Executive Melissa Greene, Ambulance Department Roy Griggs and Chastity Hobbs, Financial Management Office Beth Moore-Sumners, Nancy Griffin/Public Bill Young and paper Barbara Harmon