May 31, 2015
EMS AND FIRE HAVE SERIOUS PROBLEMS AND KAREN DEGGES REVEALED TO THE FIREFIGHTERS THAT SHE HAS MENOPAUSAL SHORT TERM MEMORY LOSS
Thursday night (5/28/15) during the crucial budget meeting, Karen Degges had to leave to attend a meeting at Station 3. She had NOT been invited by the firefighters, but it appears she showed up to protect and defend James Gregory, Fire/EMS Director.
Firefighters had called for the meeting because they wanted answers to Gregory’s directives which would leave firefighters working a structure fire without an ambulance on scene. Not only is this dangerous if a firefighter is injured or needs IV’s, but it also violates Federal regulations (NIMS) which states ambulances must be on a fire scene. Gregory told EMS personnel if they didn’t leave the fire scene and respond to the call if they were the only ambulance available, they would be fired. Gregory also said he would refuse to call in Mutual Aid to help in situations like this.
For each question presented, Karen Degges answered, not James Gregory, until the firefighters asked if James could talk. As she answered, Karen Degges blamed the BOC for all the problems presented. She told those in attendance that the Commissioners were dragging their feet and wouldn’t get another pumper truck. (This is entirely false. She wanted to buy a $217,000 truck without bids—against policy. When bids were taken and came in, the truck she said would cost $217,000 was bid out at $255,000.)
Another part of the problem in the county is EMS is at least 2 paramedics short. We have been told that EMS personnel are leaving in droves because no one wants to work with James Gregory. Many times only one ambulance can be staffed with one paramedic and one EMT (Advanced Life Support –ALS). The other ambulance may have 2 EMT’s which is BLS (Basic Life Support). However, narcotics are left on the BLS ambulance which is illegal. Things are so bad that a paramedic stays “on standby” at home and if called in has to leave from home and get to the station before the ambulance can leave to go on the call.
There were also complaints at the meeting that no training was offered. Karen Degges told them there was no money for training. (But there’s plenty for cell phones and iPad’s!?! How much training would $9,000 a year provide?) Who was responsible for adding this to the budget that was just submitted and approved? Jarrett Slocumb? James Gregory? Karen Degges?
The lack of training, as well as problems with James Gregory, is causing firefighters to leave. One major complaint is James Gregory refuses to answer his phone. Sources tell us that during the big wreck on Hwy 16 W at the Butts County line a week or so ago, Gregory was repeatedly called by the personnel on scene, and he would never answer his phone. This has been a complaint since James Gregory was hired; we have also been told that he has directed EMS staff not to call him on weekends.
An EMT present at the 5/28/15 meeting stood up and quoted the EMS book that states it is wrong to take an ambulance off-site from a structure fire being worked by firefighters. In a previous meeting, James Gregory was asked, “What happens if an ambulance is not on the scene and a firefighter gets hurt?” His answer was, “Put them in the back of Jarrett’s pickup truck and take them to the hospital.” Karen Degges tried to refute that Gregory said that, but she wasn’t there at that meeting and sources tell us he did say it.
The firefighters wanted to know what is the solution, and Ms. Degges told them to get her a list of what they need and she would present it to the BOC. They said they wanted a meeting with the BOC themselves. Ms. Degges told them to give her 3 dates, so they did. Then she told them all, “Someone will have to text them to me because I have Menopausal Short Term Memory Loss.”
Also during the meeting a firefighter’s resignation letter was read. It reveals what goes on and has been going on for years at Fire and EMS. In part that letter said—
Inflated egos, department politics, and administrative incompetence are the biggest obstacles. There are ambiguous policies and procedures. There is a toxic, dysfunctional, and male chauvinistic environment.
Our firefighter’s lives are in danger and citizens’ lives are in danger because of an incompetent administration and policies that are only enforced to remove the people those in charge and their cronies don’t like.
The job description for EMS Director requires a Paramedic; James Gregory is only an EMT. If the BOC doesn’t do something soon and hire a competent person to lead EMS, no one will work for Jasper County EMS.