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Department reports added back to agenda spur questions

Last month, Cairo City Councilman Kermit Gilliard requested monthly reports from city departments be returned to the council agenda monthly and on Monday night a number of questions from the reports were raised.
The council discussed with Cairo Fire Chief Bill Schafer the number of calls monthly the city fire department receives to assist Grady County Emergency Medical Service personnel.
“There are numerous medical assist calls with the EMS. We went through this several years ago. I’m not sure why we are having to assist so much again,” Councilman James H. (Jimmy) Douglas commented.
According to the fire chief, the bulk of the medical assist calls are to assist with the lifting of heavy patients.
“We assist when they need us. Our department has 17 fully trained people who can assist as first responders. If I felt we were being abused, I would talk with (EMS director) Mr. Billy (Rathel),” Chief Schafer said.
The chief said that any time the fire department responded and arrived before the EMS that the county is replacing any medical supplies firemen may use from the city’s inventory.
Attorney Thomas L. Lehman asked what vehicle did firemen use to respond to medial assist calls.
The chief said that Engine #2, which is the smaller of the city’s fire engines, is dispatched, but he said depending on the staffing level at the time of the call, Engine #1 with its four-man company is dispatched.
Chief Schafer said the department’s first priority is fire service, so if a truck is dispatched on a medical assist call it is properly manned to respond immediately to the scene of a fire.
Lehman also asked who the EMS calls for assistance in the unincorporated areas of the county. According to Chief Schafer, volunteer firemen who are first responders are dispatched on calls to assist with lifting.
Councilman Douglas requested that future reports break down the medical assist calls that are strictly for assistance with lifting patients and Chief Schafer agreed to make that adjustment in his monthly report.
The August fire department report indicates firemen were called out on 23 incidents and nine of those were for medical assist calls. In July, firemen were dispatched on 33 calls and of those 13 were medical assist calls.
Councilmen also had questions about the water department’s reports.
“We are out-of-line on the water pumped versus sold report,” Councilman Gilliard noted.
“We are trying to get back in line with that. We’ve had a rash of leaks and we’ve still got some big leaks that need to be repaired,” City Manager Chris Addleton said.
Attorney Lehman said that beginning in February 2013, “Everything starting going to hell in a hand basket. It hasn’t slowed down since and we are not much better off than we were four years ago,” Lehman said based on the reports.
The city manager said that as soon as leaks are repaired in one part of the city’s water system, others occur. He also said the ones that are easy to identify are also easy to repair. “It’s difficult to find many of them. I will point out that last month, we sold more water than we have in long, long time. We just had to pump a lot to sell that much,” Addleton said.
Councilman Douglas said that the city is having to pay to pump and treat all the water that is pumped.
Based on the July report, the city pumped 50,833,000 gallons and sold 39,288,000 gallons, which represents a loss of 11,545,000 gallons.
The city manager said that he would invite Public Works Director Raymond Stokes to attend the next council meeting to update the council on water losses.
Also included in the council’s agenda was an overtime report. The city manager said the overtime for the city police is a concern, but he noted that the department currently has four positions vacant and is having difficulty filling those vacancies.
The overtime report for the police department from July 14 to Aug. 10 indicated 348 hours of overtime were paid to patrol officers; 94 hours of overtime for court; 257 hours of overtime for investigations; 40 hours for special events; and 74 hours of overtime for training.

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