By: Jennifer Britt
The Parsons Advocate
Interim 911 Director, Mike Simmons, was present during the Ambulance Authority meeting to conduct a Q&A session with the board members. Simmons answered questions about the new CAD system being implemented at the 911 call center and how the system will improve emergency services in Tucker County. The projected go-live date for the project is set for April 2, 2023.
Ambulance Authority President, Dennis Filler, updated the board members on the repairs and upgrades completed during the month of December. The EMS now has four operational ambulance trucks in service. Filler said, “They have been gone through at least twice now mechanically. One is currently down for a fault of relay. I used the credit card yesterday to buy that part and it should be coming so we can fix the lighting system on it. We have had some problems with some of the lift systems. They have all been gone through and we have repaired and updated.
I will tell you some of our rigs were not road worthy. They are all now road worthy at this point. They have good rubber on all wheels. The brake systems, the calibers, whatever was needed to be repaired and bring it up to where I would put any of my family members on board was done.”
Every aspect of EMS has been overhauled from top to bottom according to Filler including communications with the ambulances that are out on calls. Filler said, “We bought two new iPads. Those coms also work with the med packs so that we can transmit call transit signals on site to either med-com or the receiving facility to provide better patient care for the individuals. The bottom line is we took the opportunity to raise the quality of standard that we can provide health care wise.”
Board member Diane Hinkle said, “I think I can speak for everyone on the board, especially with the timing of the year. It was an incredible effort on your (Filler) part and Mandy (Interim EMS Director Amanda Simmons) on your part. I am forever grateful, and I think we are in a better place. I think everyone would agree that was an outstanding effort. Not many would have stepped up to the plate like you did. Thank you both.”
There have been noticeable changes within the employee structure of the EMS. Filler said, “The squad we had in the beginning is not the squad we have now. I see a moderate morale. I see employees taking accountability, responsibility, and stepping up.” There has even been rare kudos from the Medical Director P.S. Martin.
- Simmons started her interim director’s report by saying, “I am here to serve whatever as an agency that is needed. I have had to maintain what is needed verses what is wanted. Needs and wants in EMS are totally different but sometimes when you come with the preceptive of employer verses employee it is totally different. Thankfully I worked there until June of this year (2022), so I had a vague idea of what was already needed. There were a couple of things that did not cost the company anything it was just operational wise we just needed to change around a little bit. The morale immediately was like, “Wow!”, boosted because of just those simple little things.”
During the following weeks, the licenses for everything from the vehicles to the personnel were touched upon. There will be five firefighters from Company 10 (Parsons Fire Department) and an estimated three to five from Company 30 (Canaan Valley Fire Department), and five from Davis/Thomas Fire Departments that are willing to be trained to acquire the required license through the state to drive the ambulances for the EMS crews in emergency situations.
Refusal forms for individuals in police custody refusing medical treatment have been amended to provide the proper paper for police officers to take said individuals directly to lockup. In the past if the individual did not have a refusal form the officer would have to take the individual to the ER and wait an estimated four hours to obtain the refusal form. A. Simmons has worked with the state, the prosecuting attorney, and lawyers to update this form. Now EMS will have the ability to give the form to the person and it will be placed in their belongings.
Commissioner Tim Knotts commended A. Simmons and Filler for doing a job well done. Knotts said, “You (A. Simmons) are doing a wonderful, great job and I thank you (Filler) for all the time you have put in. It is looking a whole lot better from when I campaigned this past year. It has been remarkable. Keep it up. Thank you!”
Board members provided brief updates for their committee reports. Treasurer Chris Davis was unable to attend the meeting for the finance committee report, but Filler provided the needed information. Harold “Rocky” Spencer provided an update on the bylaws. Lenore Howell provided analytics. Steven Sponaugle went over the EMS policy/procedures and employee handbook update, and Diane Hinkle touched base on the community outreach and communications that included the 339 donations totaling $42,365. Hinkle said, “It did well in the beginning, but now it is trinkling in and it is on us to revive that, and we need to be strategic about how and when we do that.” Donations can be sent to PO Box 333, Parsons, West Virginia, 26287.
Moving forward the authority will continue to work towards the goal of having an EMS service that not only provides citizens and visitors with the best possible medical care but also raises the bar for its employees while obtaining a steady income to cover the cost of operations. The board then went into executive session to discuss personnel matters.
After the conclusion of the executive session the board voted to approve the pay adjustments for individuals discussed during the session.
The next Tucker County Ambulance Authority meeting will be held on February 28, 2023, at 5:30 p.m. The location of the meeting is to be determined. Meeting agendas with time and locations can be found on the Tucker County Commission website under the Ambulance Authority information tab located at https://tuckercountycommission.com/county-government/county-boards/ambulance-authority/.