AMBULANCE MINUTES OF MEETING
22 OCTOBER 2021
Committee Members: David Wamble, Chairman, David Adams, Terry Harwell (absent), Duane Jones, Gayle Jones for Brad Butler (absent), Joseph Sutton, Joyce Woodard Other Commissioners: Harold Brooks, Bill Cary, Mike Cesarini, Stoney Jackson, Rodney Journey, Tommy Pollard, Judy Pruett, Roger Reedy, Tracy Wilburn, Larry Worsham Other: County Executive Melissa Greene, Roy Griggs, Director, EMS, and Chastity Hobbs, EMS, Beth Moore-Sumners Financial Management Director and Nancy Griffin, Assistant Financial Management Director, Barbara Harmon, Pulaski Citizen
Chairman David Wamble opened the meeting with Tommy Pollard providing the prayer and leading the pledge. The minutes from 16 June 2021 were moved for approval by David Adams, seconded by Joseph Sutton. Motion approved.
First Agenda Item: New Ambulance – Due to COVID it will take a previously approved $120K remount be more than a year for the remount to be received by Giles County. An opportunity to purchase a demo model ambulance for $125K, to replace the remount, is being pursued. The “new” ambulance has 10K in mileage, is a 2020-2021 model, has a full warranty and would be ready to go after the state inspection. David Adams motioned to move forward with the purchase, with Duane Jones seconding. Motion approved. While an approval of this item was not necessary since the information was for transparency only, due to already being in the budget, the motion was to show support and will not need to be forwarded to the budget committee.
Second Agenda Item: Staffing – Roy Griggs discussed the limited availability of ambulances and how Giles County and other county ambulance services continue to support each other; how weather has to be considered in whether you use flight or ground services; requirements to transport to other states not doable, and refer to private service; encourage to use car if medically possible. Staffing is the more troubling challenge however, and Roy stated his department is desperately looking for employees. The EMT employees require medical training, have a starting salary of $28K – $35K and top out at $39K, with no mandatory overtime (although the shifts work less days but more hours in those days than a typical 8 hour day). Mention of other starting salaries are significantly higher and result in some of the surrounding counties also offering higher EMT salaries as well as a sign-in bonus, e.g. Maury County. Currently the department is 7 employees short of the fully staffed number of 35 employees. About 3 – 4 months ago the department was fully staffed, and COVID has taken an emotional toll on those employees, fearing not only their own safety but also that of the patients. Chastity Hobbs noted that the holidays are typically the worst for calls coming in for assistance. Again, while no particular vote is required of the committee, Melissa stated the information is for transparency for all the commissioners in order for them to field any questions by their constituents. She spoke of some of the possible solutions. Bedford County has put into place a school specifically for EMT training and Giles County is exploring that option. Questions raised by the commissioners were: Can you use 1st Responders to assess if an ambulance is required, can you use historical data to determine flow of calls and align with staffing time, what other ambulance services are dependable resources, i.e. Vanderbilt but not always available, who makes the decision on location of transport, i.e. EMS or patient (depends on previous use of doctors, new patient sometimes their condition, or their desire) and different hospitals have preference for their own patients having beds available (resulting in longer wait time for Giles ambulances), how are we doing early recruitment, e.g. high school, TCAT (Roy has contacted all and/or done presentations, or ride a longs to encourage). Roy stated some of the challenges besides COVID burnout, with those being: can only make best evaluation after being with the patient, wrecks on highway can involve more than one ambulance (going two separate destinations) and other departments such as police and fire, and made the statement “time is valuable” when determining life and death situations, such as stroke or heart attacks. Chairman Wamble closed the discussion by asking all to provide any ideas to the County Executive on potential solutions.
Third Agenda Item: Building update – The potential location property has voted to do an appraisal to determine cost but there is no definite timeline available at this time. Commissioner Joyce Woodard will check on the timeline.
Old Business: Gayle Jones asked additional questions on salary range and shift hours.
New Business: Roy sadly announced the retirement of Tommy Gatlin who has 45 years with the department and was Roy’s trainer when he started with the department. He noted that Tommy had been an exemplary employee. Due to that retirement there will be some staffing movements with the department.
David Adams moved for adjournment, with Gayle Jones seconding. Motion approved.