Cumberland County’s Emergency Services Committee went on record Monday night to say the committee would not consider privatizing the operation of the county’s ambulance service.
Michael Speich, 6th District commissioner, asked Chris Miller, EMS director, why the ambulance in the Fairfield Glade station is not put in rotation like the other ambulances in the county.
Cumberland County Mayor Allen Foster, said, “That’s not accurate. It is in the rotation but it’s pulled last because of the call volume out there.”
Speich then said he did not like the ambulance at Crab Orchard being pulled from the station to take care of other calls because it adds to response time to the Westel area.
“If you pull that Crab Orchard ambulance it adds 10 minutes to the response time to Westel. Where did that policy come from?” Speich asked.
Foster said, “We discussed it. Fairfield Glade has far more calls than the other districts. We’re just playing the numbers.”
He said County Technical Assistance Service was performing a study of the logistics of the ambulance service and the locations.
“Once we get that CTAS study of the logistics we can get an idea on best way to solve it,” Foster said. “You have to keep your stuff where it’s closer to your customers and make sure they’re staged in the proper areas.”
Miller said, “I’ve said this before but until we can predict where calls are going to happen, we have to put them in the areas where the calls are most likely.”
Speich asked about response times in the county.
Miller said the average response time last year was 9 minutes and 34 seconds.
“Our times this year have improved to 9 minutes and 10 seconds,” Miller said.
Foster clarified Miller’s response and said this includes calls coming into the 911 center deemed emergency and does not include other transport calls.
“This is for emergency calls only,” Foster said.
Speich referred to past studies of long response times and rumors that have been circulating about the county considering using an additional ambulance service and not operating its own service.
“How does this affect your crew and the morale of your crew?” Speich asked.
“Very rough. A lot. It’s hard on them and it affects the morale. They worry about their jobs. I’ve got one who’s close to having his 30 years of service and he’s worried about his retirement. These rumors and reports are devastating to them,” Miller said.
Speich said, “What can we do to make them not worry? I don’t want them to worry. They shouldn’t have to worry about this. I don’t see us getting out of the ambulance service. I think we should go on record and say we won’t privatize the ambulance service. We are against privatizing … That’s a motion.”
Nancy Hyder, 2nd District commissioner, supported the motion.
Miller said, “This has been going on for two years. The guys absolutely love this county and they’re doing all they can. To hear that. It hurts them.”
Speich said, “It has got to stop.”
The committee agreed and unanimously approved the motion.
Everett Bolin, E-911 emergency communication district chairman, said, “I commend you for doing that.”
Miller said, “I thank you for doing it and I know my department will thank you. It’s a burden off of them.”
Foster said when he receives the CTAS report he will bring the results to the committee and county commission.