April 20, 2016
James Gregory, now former EMS/Fire Director, resigned effective Monday, April 18th. Mr. Gregory was hired by former County Manager, Karen Degges, and lacked the required qualifications as stated in the Jasper County job descriptions for the position of EMS director.
The Jasper County job description requires the EMS director to be a Paramedic. However, in the past 15 years, this has only happened twice, and for a short period of time on both occasions—Jeff Bratcher and Ellett Jackson were directors with paramedic certification.
Is the interim director qualified?
Jarrett Slocumb has been moved to the interim director’s position, and he too lacks the qualifications for the position. An EMS director should be more than someone with an EMT-I designation, which is what Mr. Slocumb has. Additionally, sources tell us that Jarrett Slocumb has never worked on an ambulance, much less for an ambulance service, so how would he know how an ambulance service should operate efficiently and correctly? This along with the “crony clique” that has permeated Jasper County EMS has been a problem for a long time.
EMS Collections and “Special Pay”
Under James Gregory, collections at Jasper County EMS were very poor. Debria Murphy was served as EMS billing clerk until 11/16/15 making $12 per hour. She also worked as a EMT on the ambulances. On 11/16/15, Ms. Murphy “resigned” and since then has worked solely as an EMT—making $12 per hour and $18 per hour overtime, while Paramedics made much less. As of 4/19/16 Debria Murphy’s pay was finally cut to $9.50 per hour. Additionally, collections have doubled since she “resigned” as EMS billing clerk.
Serious and possibly life threatening problems at EMS
There have been other serious and possibly life threatening problems at EMS over the past year. Many times only one ambulance was staffed because EMS personnel were leaving due to the poor leadership. Sources tell us that there are very few people at EMS that live in Jasper County. Frequently there has been no ambulance at Station 1 which serves the north part of the county, including large population areas such as Turtle Cove, Alcovy Shores, and the County Line Rd. area.
There was at least one time when an ambulance arrived at a call, got another call they felt was more important, and left the first call without ever getting out of the ambulance and checking on the person. TWG has been told of several instances when one EMT in particular has made or tried to make patients that have possible neck or back injuries get up and walk to the ambulance.
Your life depends on who is on duty and the leadership of EMS
Part of the problem with having a director that is an EMT-I is that if a Paramedic is sick or out, an EMT-I can not step in and do the job. The State requires certain qualifications for personnel on the ambulance, and their certifications determine what they can and can not do. An EMT-I can not monitor a cardiac patient; they can not administer pain medications; and they can not maintain a severe respiratory patient. These are just some of the things they can not do. Sometimes all an EMT-I can do is transport a patient to the hospital giving little intervention to help the patient.
Until Jasper County EMS has a qualified director with leadership skills, there will continue to be serious problems that affect our quality of EMS service.
Citizens, be informed and stay informed! Only by being informed can the citizens understand what is being done and talked about, and then press our officials to make good decisions for everyone in Jasper County. That is our goal with the Taxdogs blog.