The bickering from the audience at the Monday, Dec. 17, meeting of the Cedar County Ambulance Board in Stockton came to a screeching halt when the newest board member, Wes Spinks, said, “People’s lives are at stake,” and told them to “Either get along and save lives or get out of here.”
He said he didn’t want to listen to allegations (from the admitted supporters of St. John’s/Mercy, the former ambulance provider) about what Citizens Memorial Hospital is doing without written proof.
John Wilson, who reportedly campaigned for office on the promise of bringing St. John’s ambulance service back to Cedar County by Jan. 1, 2013, claimed that he had heard “multiple times” on the radio Polk County 911 send a Cedar County ambulance which had just made a delivery to Bolivar somewhere else, like “clear up north to Sedalia.”
Spinks asked, “Is that something that happens?”
CMH District Manager Chris Loderhose said, “No, sir. I have legal documents that I have to file with the state of Missouri.” He said he could account for every ambulance call with those documents.
Spinks said to the audience, “I have all this commotion over here. I don’t want a commotion over here unless you can verify this in writing. If you can, please do so.”
Former Board Member Jerry Davis who has filed for the District 6 seat Spinks now holds, told Spinks to get a scanner and he’d know.
Spinks said, “I don’t have time to carry a scanner around while I’m working. If someone here has documentation, valid absolute proof, it needs to be brought here. And if no one else will listen to you, you can bring it to me.”
Spinks said, “Don’t bring hear-say in here. If you got and you know it’s true, you bring it in here documented and we’ll look at it.”
Spinks said, “To be real blunt, there is a lot of horse pooey in this whole deal. And I’m going to put a stop to it. If you’ve got something that’s a fact and you can prove it, bring it on. Otherwise sit there and be quiet. And that goes for anybody.”
“Bring in the proof and we’ll look at it. But I’m not going to go down and start chasing up every goof ball thing that someone says.”
“But you, by golly, better get along when you are in the field. I’m talking to everybody.”
At the beginning of the meeting, with all board members present: Robert Matney, John Wilson, Don Fugate, Sue Rice, Wes Spinks and Leroy Sousley – presiding, the board heard the financial report which Sousley read in the absence of Kalena Kenney who he said was recovering from surgery.
Rice pointed out that the district is ahead of this time last year in cash in bank by $86,161.47 and up over last year in assets by $104,869.80. At the same time, sales tax revenue is down over $4,000.
Spinks asked why vehicle maintenance is $11,962.73, when $5,000 was budgeted.
Chairman Sousley said that the district had two major breakdowns on ambulances – one blew an engine which cost over $9,000 to replace and the other lost a transmission at over 300,000 miles.
In his manager’s report, Chris Loderhose said that the amount of FRA (Federal Reimbursement Act) money district receives is “set to double.” He said that the program officially got started April 1, 2012, so if a person looks at the amount received by April 1, 2013, and doubles it, that is the estimate for what the district will receive in the following year.
He reported that all new radios are installed and working and the repeater is in at Cedar County Memorial Hospital. He said there are no problems. He reported they talked to the Cedar County Sheriff’s office on hand held radio from St. John’s in Springfield.
He said that the old radios (wide band) and chargers are in boxes in the Stockton facility. He said, “I’d like to see them move out into people’s hands.”
Loderhose reported that the Stockton tank is down to the last 20 to 40 gallons of fuel. After that, the ambulances will be filled using credit card purchases.
He reported that the numbers on ambulances will change to 1700 numbers starting Jan. 1 to eliminate confusion with emergency vehicles of some towns that also use 700 numbers.
He said the state drug enforcement authority shut down the use of drugs on El Dorado Springs ambulances for seven days while an address problem got corrected. He said it didn’t have anything to do with the medications, but in a routine check of the new license, the state discovered that St. John’s had changed the location of the ambulances (to the ElDo ambulance barn) five years ago and left the address at the St. John’s clinic. Polk County ambulances were on standby and there was only one transport for a vehicle rollover where there was a possility that drugs might be needed.
Wilson asked if CMH was contracted to pay up to $1,500 per incident for vehicle repair no matter where it was done. Loderhose said he had seen a letter which the board should receive saying that the attorney interpreted the contract as saying CMH offered fleet service at its facility in Bolivar and would not pay if the vehicles go somewhere else.
Spinks asked Loderose about “the Friday night deal.”
Loderhose said “Friday night at 1758 hours an ambulance was dispatched to 15990 South Hwy. 97.”(which is at Osiris).
He said the Stockton paramedic printed out a Google map (as he relied 100% on Google to do) but that Google did not know the location. Loderhose said the paramedic did not verify with a paper map. The erroneous Google map took him down Hwy. 97 to the Dade County line where the Google map stopped.
“When he realized he was in the wrong location, Jerico Springs responders were more than helpful, but he did not realize he was about to take a wrong turn and lost radio communication with them. By the time he got back to Jerico Springs, the family was upset and took the patient by personal vehicle.”
Loderose said, “We were 100% wrong. Dispatch was not wrong. Directions weren’t wrong. The address wasn’t wrong. Our paramedic made a grave mistake. All fulltime personnel in Cedar County will be retrained on map understanding. We can’t trust GPS. We have to do the basics of our job which is simply an old fashioned map to make sure that where those computers are telling us where to go is correct.”
Chairman Sousley said later that the paramedic failed to put South in the address on Hwy. 97 which he put into the GPS computer. That apparently fooled Google.
In unfinished business, the board took up Sue Rice’s proposal to add a seventh, at large director to be elected county-wide. On a motion by Wilson, second by Matney to not have a director at large, the vote was five in favor with Rice voting no.
The board discussed at length whether to add a crew to do routine transfers and when to have them on duty.
Loderhose said, “I haven’t figured out a real solution,” saying there was no certain day or time of day when transfers occur. The idea is to try to keep the ambulances at El Dorado Springs and Stockton in the county for emergencies.
The board decided to ask Loderhose to do more study. The solution may be to have a crew on call.
Loderhose said that in times of high usage with transfers backing up, CMH has added multiple trucks to Cedar County on seven occasions without saying anything.
Spinks presented a proposal to fund the purchase of a new ambulance for an estimated $92,000 to $96,000 by borrowing the money from district savings which is currently earning just over half a percent interest. The money would be repaid in three years at 3.53 percent interest – $33,938.91 per year.
He wrote in his proposal, “I believe this is a smart use of our savings that at the current time is only earning .5% interest. It also allows us to stay within the parameters of our projected annual budget if there are any unforeseen expenses.”
Wilson said he likes the proposal but wants repayment in two years so ambulances can be traded sooner. He wants to put the recording devices under the seats in the ambulances to record speed, g-forces and other such things. He didn’t know the cost.
CMH Ambulance Director Neal Taylor said at a previous meeting that they don’t use such devices.
Loderhose said that with all four ambulances running, each ambulance may last longer running about 35,000 miles each per year.