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Emergency Services Committee Meeting Minutes – May 6, 2024 (Unapproved)

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The Emergency Services Committee met on Monday, May 6, 2024 at the OEM
building on Columbia Highway. Chairman Caleb Savage presided.
Commissioner/Chaplain Matt Rubelsky opened the meeting with a prayer and
the pledge. Commissioner Shelly Goolsby made a motion to approve the
previous meeting’s minutes with a second by Commissioner David Wamble.
Minutes were approved unanimously. The Chairman then asked County
Executive Graham Stowe if he had any announcements and he did not.
First order of business was to go over the Fire and Rescue budget. Director of
Emergency Services Bill Myers explained that the budget request went up by
about $33,000.00 from last year for truck and hose replacements. Fire hoses
have a life cycle and must be replaced periodically for safety concerns.
Emergency Services are also in the process of replacing tankers that have trash
pumps with tankers that have on board pumps which are faster and more
efficient. They buy used tankers to reduce costs.
Chairman Savage introduced EMS Chief Willow Chavez and asked her to go
over the pay comparison, new pay scale and education pathway charts which
she had prepared for the meeting. Chief Chavez spoke on pay comparisons of
Giles County with the neighboring counties of Lawrence, Marshall, Lincoln and
Maury. Significant pay differences were shown in comparison to the surrounding
counties with Giles County at the bottom of pay as well as falling below the
national averages for Advanced Emergency Medical Technicians (AEMT) and
Paramedics (PM). Chief Chavez also said that the proposed adjusted pay scale
would be closer to the surrounding counties’ pay which should help with
attracting and retaining workers. They have strived to improve the work culture
to make Giles County a more desirable place to work, but we need to pay
people for what they’re worth or they will simply drive to other counties for jobs.
Chief Chavez went over the new proposed pay scale which would bring us most
closely in line with Lincoln County. Dir. Myers explained that the new pay scale
would not exceed $20,000 more than the proposed 5% county employee
increase. Chairman Savage pointed out that the cost of losing employees is very
expensive and this should be considered in making pay raise decisions.
Commissioner David Wamble asked what counties have gone to the 24/72 work
schedule. Chief Chavez said that in addition to Giles, Lincoln and Maury work
the 24/72 schedule while Lawrence and Marshall are on the 24/48 schedule.
Chief Chavez said that the 24/72 schedule has been very beneficial.
Commissioner Evan Baddour made a motion to approve the proposed pay scale
of at least least 5% not to exceed $20,000 more than the proposed 5% county
employee increase. Commissioner James Lathrop seconded the motion.
Commissioner Gayle Jones questioned EMS revenues and Dir. Myers said that if
they continue on the same path, it should be a wash. Chief Chavez said that
they are trying to attract young people to enter this career field.
After much discussion, Commissioner James Lathrop called the question and
Commissioner Brad Butler seconded it. Motion passed unanimously. Vote was
then taken to approve the proposed EMS pay schedule and to send it to the
budget committee. It passed unanimously.
Chairman Savage then asked Chief Chavez to talk about continuing education,
the career progression program and its importance in attracting and retaining
Dir. Myers went over the EMS Ambulance budget worksheet explaining that
trucks are getting old and vehicle maintenance and repair will go up. Three
ambulances had engines replaced this year. Costs are going up for equipment
and gas. IV pumps are needed for every ambulance because some medications
require pumps to administer. Gas prices have also gone up. Commissioner
Wamble asked what do we do to get the best gas prices and who we get our
gas from. Dir. Myers explained that we get our gas from Wright Express because
they can use them everywhere the vehicles may go. Commissioner Wamble
asked if Dir. Myers would check with local businesses for gas prices.
Commissioner Wamble made a motion to approve the EMS Ambulance budget
worksheet and to send it on to the budget committee. Seconded by
Commissioner Goolsby. It passed unanimously.
The next order of business was to go over the budget worksheet for other
Emergency Management presented by Dir. Myers. He explained that because
the back portion of the OEM building is now insulated and has HVAC, there are
three garage doors that need replacing with insulated doors. When asked if the
existing doors could have insulation added, Dir. Myers said that in his opinion
no, the doors are old and really need replacing. He also explained the need for a
new vehicle to pull hazmat trailers. The 2014 Explorer which they use to pull
trailers has 85,000 miles on it and it will soon need replacing. They currently
have 5 hazmat trailers but can only pull one at a time. If an emergency situation
came up in 2 different areas of the county, they could not take care of both. He
is getting information on acquiring a new 3/4 ton, gas powered, 4WD truck for
$75,000.00 which would be used to pull hazmat and/or communication
equipment trailers. They sold an old, large command truck for $9800.00 which
would be used to offset the cost of a new truck. Commissioner Wamble asked if
a used truck could be used, but Dir. Myers said with the state option for a new
vehicle, he doubted a used truck would be cheaper, but he would look into it.
Chairman Savage asked if the truck purchase could be put off to next year, and
Dir. Myers said it could, but it would negatively impact their capabilities.
Commissioner Lathrop made a motion to accept the Emergency Services
budget as proposed with a second by Commissioner Baddour. It passed
Chairman Savage then asked if there was any new, unfinished or old business
and Commissioner Gayle Jones said she had questions about co-locating the
new EMS building with E911 because the price tag of approximately $700.00
per sq. ft. to meet Cat 4 codes sounded exorbitant. She had talked to an
architect, Emmitt Smith, with whom the county had previously worked on the
school buildings. She learned that Cat 4 building codes come from International
Standards and unless the state or county has adopted these codes, they would
not apply to Giles County. Mr. Smith said if a grant was obtained, the codes
would most likely apply. Dir. Myers and Chairman Savage both said that the
state has adopted these standards and they can be found online.
Commissioner Gayle Jones said she thought the county could save money by
adding on to the existing E911 building and passed out a Scope of Work quote
from Brindley Construction dated September 2023. This proposal, which was
good for 30 days, would add an approximately 1000 square feet addition (rated
Cat 4) to the existing E911 building for a price 0f $544,072.00. Commissioner
Wamble said he likes the idea of adding on to the existing building because
E911 can pay for it. However, an engineer from OHM said that it would cost
more to bring the existing E911 building up to code and had recommended to
co-locate the facilities. Commissioner Gayle Jones pointed out all of the building
projects the county is facing and said that raising taxes in today’s economy is
unconscionable, with most commissioners agreeing. EMS Deputy Director Josh
Young said that he is looking at grant possibilities, but they can take years to
come through.
Chairman Savage pointed out that this is a non-actionable item and asked for a
motion to adjourn. Commissioner Butler made the motion to adjourn with
Commissioner Wamble providing a second. It passed unanimously,
Commissioners attending the meeting were EMS Committee members
Chairman Caleb Savage, Vice Chairman James Lathrop, Secretary Annelle
Guthrie, Shelly Goolsby, David Wamble, Brad Butler and Evan Baddour (sitting in
for Joseph Sutton). Other commissioners in attendance were Joyce Woodard,
Gayle Jones, Erin Curry, Matt Rubelsky, Tracy Wilburn and Terry Jones. Other
Attendees: County Executive Graham Stowe, EMS Director Bill Myers, Other
EMS: Willow Chavez, Josh Young and Jeremy Mitchell.
Addendum from Architect Emmitt Smith:
Commissioner Gayle Jones called and asked me if an Ambulance Facility had to
be designed as a category IV structure. My response to her was I didn’t know
without reviewing the local adopted building code(s) and the applicable State of
Tennessee requirements. (Ms. Jones did not tell me another A/E was doing the
design.) The next day I had some time to look at the codes and found it was
required for the occupancy in question. I also contacted my structural engineer
and asked about the impact of the additional requirements on building costs. He
stated the higher wind speed requirements usually had the biggest impact. I
called Gayle Jones back and relayed this information to her.
Please acknowledge receipt of this email. Thank you!
Emmett Smith, AIA
Emmett Smith & Associates, Architect, P.C.
P.O. Box 171
Guntersville, Alabama 35976
Website: esaarchitect.com
(205) 531-3749