CADIZ - Doug Crabtree, president of Harrison County's EMS Association, completed the first phase of restoring full EMS service to Harrison County.
Crabtree on Wednesday presented an Emergency Medical Service contract on behalf of the Harrison County Community Volunteer Fireman's Association to the Harrison County commissioners.
"There are some changes to the contract. First of all it is for a period of one year; typically these are four-year contracts," Crabtee said.
Crabtree told the board. "It should also be noted that there are two EMS units located in Cadiz, one at the EMS building and one will be at the fire station."
Crabtree noted that no EMS unit has been located in the firehouse since the two entities split in 1972. Supplemental to the contract was an attached addendum outlining the new reimbursements for fire and EMS departments.
He said procedure for a Cadiz emergency is that the dispatcher at the sheriff's department notifies Cadiz EMS as the primary, with New Athens and Hopedale as backup. All are notified at the same time if an ambulance is needed. The standard practice has had New Athens heading to the scene two minutes after the initial contact, and Hopedale at five minutes. At that point, the dispatcher would begin contacting private services, such as the hospital, to supplement.
Under new proposed guidelines, responding departments now will receive $55 in travel reimbursement from the county and $35 for responding and disregarding. Departments will receive $100 travel/drug expense reimbursement for Medic Assist and $50 travel reimbursement for intermediate assist.
"The county encourages a portion of these reimbursements funds to be used to reimburse volunteers," Crabtree read from the addendum.
"Also we have changed some paging policies," he said.
"I appreciate the sub-committee, Cadiz Fire Department and all the volunteers in general, New Athens for helping Cadiz, also the hospital and all of the people who have worked hard on this," commission Chair Dale Norris said. "Everyone has shown that commitment to the safety of the citizens of our county continues to be the primary concern in all negotiations."
The commissioners approved the contract and advertised for proposals from private, for-profit ambulance and EMT services, with Commissioner Don Bethel abstaining due to conflicts of interest.
Crabtree added the county cannot dispatch for a private, for-profit entity without a contract in place. Proposals for these contracts will be accepted until 10 a.m. on March 19, when they will be opened during the commissioners' meeting.
One issue still remaining to be resolved will be when and how soon to page private services. He noted the county typically operates on a three-department callout for EMS service, with one primary and two backup departments. All 911 calls currently run through the operator in the sheriff's department and are dispatched using the aforementioned protocol.
Initial projections indicate that in the proposals, services will bill the county $300 for basic runs and some concern has been expressed that private, for-profit services could "jump" calls paged to volunteer departments.
"While these are important issues and will no doubt take some time and perhaps some trial and error to resolve, we are now one step closer to restoring countywide EMS services," Crabtree said.
"On behalf of the EMS Association, the fireman's association and the general public we thank the commissioners for your hard work and your faith in us," Crabtree added. "We are proud of the service that we perform and hope we can continue to do so for years to come."