The emergency medical services system in Emery County shall go back under the umbrella of the Emery County Sheriff's Office. The Emery County Commissioners voted two to one to return the system to the sheriff's office. It was one year ago when the EMS was moved from the sheriff's office to a stand alone department. Jim Gordon was hired to be the part-time director of the EMS.
Commissioner Gary Kofford said, "We have had several meetings on the EMS. One year ago it was pulled from under the sheriff's office and an ambulance department was formed and Jim Gordon was hired to fill this part time position. We are at a cross roads. Jim has put together a plan for the future of the department."
Kofford said there were several items on the agenda pertaining to EMS. The first was the recommendation to make the director of the EMS system, a full time position. This passed with a unanimous vote. Gordon will begin this position with a grade 20 with benefits beginning at $20.70 per hour.
Commissioner Jeff Horrocks said that in looking at the budget Gordon can be set at a grade 20 and the money is available in the current budget to allow that to happen.
The second item was to increase the on call pay of the EMTs from 50 cents per hour to $1 per hour. This on call increase will take effect immediately.
Horrocks said, "Based on where we are at with the budget at this time, we can go to $1 per hour for the rest of this year and we'll look at it again at budget time."
There have been recent increases for the basic charge of calling out an ambulance, but mileage fees haven't been increased. Kofford said the money for the EMT on call pay can be found for the rest of this year and the county will need to look at where that ongoing money will come from.
Darrel Leamaster wondered how being on call for the ambulance works. He said it would be good to check the Fair Labor Standards Act and make sure the county is in compliance with that in regards to the requirements an EMT is under while they are on call.
No one seemed to know if the county is in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act and County Attorney David Blackwell will check on compliance.
Kofford said when the EMTs are on call it is for 12 hour periods at a time. Blackwell added they are restricted to stay in their town and must always carry their pager so they can arrive quickly at a scene.
In regards to the on call pay increase, Kofford said it is a start to address some of the problems.
Kofford said there has been some talk of starting a special service district for the ambulance. This would include a five member board, three of which would be EMTs; one from Green River and one from the northern end of the county and one from the south. These representatives to the board would be voted upon by the EMTs from each station. A special service district would give the county the opportunity to put mineral lease money into the EMS program.
He said there were a number of options on the table including the creation of the special service district. Another option would be to leave the EMS where it is now under the commission. Another option would be to leave it where it is now under the commission and establish an advisory council. Another option would be to take it back under the sheriff's office. Another option would be to put it back under the sheriff's office with a five person advisory council. The EMTs want input on decisions made for the EMS program.
Kofford asked for comments on his remarks and suggested the commission work towards a motion.
Blackwell said if the intent was to create a special service district then a resolution must be drawn up and published for three weeks with the intent to establish a special service district. A public hearing would also need to be held.
But, the establishment of an advisory council would not require a special resolution. The advisory council would include the sheriff, a commission member and three EMTs.
Horrocks said the establishment of a special service district would take at least three months to complete and a person would need to be added to operate the district. But, it would allow for additional funding for EMS. He said that would be a positive, having additional funding. He said some special service districts work well and he felt like some do not. Horrocks liked the idea of an advisory council and keeping the EMS department under the commission. He said he didn't think it needed to be moved and it was harmful to keep moving it back and forth. He said he would be favorable to the creation of a special service district or an advisory council, this was more in line with what the EMTs had requested.
Commissioner Laurie Pitchforth said she has mulled the question of what to do with the EMS back and forth. She made a list of good points and bad points in each choice. She talked to several EMTs. "I personally feel it shouldn't have been taken from under the sheriff's office when it was. I feel it was a political issue when it was taken. If that money (from the move) had been put towards the sheriff's office where it was needed, we wouldn't be here today discussing it. I am at a quandary. I have tried to come up with a solution to benefit our community. I feel it has a long way to go and is still floundering. I would like it to go back to the sheriff's office with an advisory council."
Horrocks said he disagreed with Commissioner Pitchforth and moving EMS back to the sheriff's office. He said they have long range plans and he still believes the EMS needs to stand alone and be independent. "I am receptive to a special service district and I am receptive to an advisory council to assist the commission.
Kofford said it comes down to a motion. Both commissioners have valid arguments. "Jim has been trying to put this on track on only four hours a day. It is an emergency service. I feel the best fit is under the sheriff's office," said Kofford.
Horrocks made a motion to keep the EMS under the commission and create an advisory council. The motion died for lack of a second.
Pitchforth made a motion to move Gordon to a full-time position and put the EMS department back under the sheriff's office with the creation of an advisory council.
Horrocks would not second Pitchforth's motion. Kofford stepped down as chairman and seconded the motion. A vote was called for and Pitchforth and Kofford voted yes and Horrocks voted against the motion. The EMS will go back under the sheriff's office with Gordon as the full-time director and a five person advisory council will be created.
Blackwell was instructed to prepare a resolution on how to form the advisory council for the EMS.
In an interview with Sheriff Guymon he said, "We will figure out where the EMS sits today. I haven't been involved with it for a year now. We will see where we are and take it from there. We will do whatever it takes to make it work. The safety of our county residents is one of our greatest concerns within the sheriff's office."