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County makes changes in rescue truck operation

FIRST RESPONDER RICHARD PHILLIPS is now responsible for manning the county’s rescue truck during regular business hours. He is based in the Cairo station of the county volunteer fire department. After-hours and weekends will be covered by Volunteer Fire Coordinator Wayne Hadden and members of the volunteer fire department.

Grady County commissioners want to be more efficient and effective with the operation of the county’s rescue truck and beginning Jan. 1, 2010, a new modus operandi was initiated.
Until the beginning of 2010, the county has funded three full-time positions to cover the rescue truck 24-hours a day, seven days a week, but now the county has eliminated two positions and shifted responsibility to the Grady County Volunteer Fire Department.
“We believe these new procedures will be a more efficient and effective way to provide this service. We plan on evaluating it during the first year to see if it works well. If it doesn’t, we will do something else. We will not stay with something that doesn’t work,” County Administrator Rusty Moye said Tuesday.
During the county commission’s first meeting of the new year, Chairman Al Ball suggested that the board invite Emergency Medical Service Director Billy Rathel and County Volunteer Fire Coordinator Wayne Hadden to brief commissioners on the operations after the initial three months.
“I just believe we need to see how it is working,” Chairman Ball commented.
Under the new county plan, Richard Phillips, who is the chief of the Spence division of the volunteer fire department and a certified first responder, has been hired as the first responder to man the truck 40 hours a week, Monday – Friday. After-hours and weekends will be covered by Volunteer Fire Coordinator Wayne Hadden and members of the volunteer fire department, according to Chief Hadden.
The county rescue truck’s sole mission is for rescue and extrication, and the unit is equipped with the necessary equipment to perform those duties.
“That is the sole purpose of having the truck. It was never meant to serve as a back-up to the ambulance crews,” Administrator Moye said.
First Responder Phillips and the truck will be based at the Cairo station of the county volunteer fire department on 17th Ave. N.W. in Cairo.
According to Moye, a disgruntled person has been spreading misinformation concerning the changes in the operations of the rescue truck.
Vice Chairman Charles Renaud noted, “For years and years, it has been used as one-half of a relief crew to the ambulance crew.”
Renaud says the county should monitor the calls to determine if there is indeed a need for a third full-time ambulance crew.
Currently, the county has four people on a shift 24-hours a day, seven days a week to man ambulances and, during the daytime, Director Billy Rathel is also available to respond when needed. The county owns three ambulances, but typically operates only two, leaving the third as back-up.
Commissioner Charles Norton contends the four-man teams are sufficient. “It is a matter of needs and wants,” Norton said.
The District 3 commissioner also pointed out that when ambulance crews respond to 911 calls for such minor illnesses as headaches and toothaches, but transports no one, the county incurs an expense, but does not charge patients until a transport takes place.
“I have a problem with that,” Norton added.
The county administrator assured the board that EMS Director Rathel is monitoring the exact number of instances when three calls occur during the same time period.
“We may possibly need a person to respond at times, and Mr. Phillips and many of our volunteer firemen are first responders,” Moye said.
Moye says he will present the board statistics from EMS during the budget preparations later this year.

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