Ambulance Board discusses dispatching, surplus radios

Posted February 21, 2013 at 1:23 pm

Dispatching of the ambulances and distribution of the surplus radios were the hot topics Monday night at the meeting of the Cedar County Ambulance Board. With all members present, the board met in the Stockton Ambulance Barn on Monday, Feb. 18 – Robert Matney, John Wilson, Don Fugate, Sue Rice, Wes Spinks and Leroy Sousley – presiding.

During the public forum, Nadine Sinclair, self proclaimed expert on dispatching, read her observations to the board on some of the 172 ambulance calls which came in during the month of January and some in February. She found fault with all of the calls she mentioned and never said anything complimentary about any of the calls she had heard.

It came to light during and after the meeting that Ms. Sinclair was completely in error in her complaints during the January meeting about the dispatching of emergency calls which came into the El Dorado Springs police department. She finally admitted, without apology, that she did not recognize the change in voice when the Cedar County Sheriff’s office took over the relayed call.

She made similar errors in listening to dispatching of the January-February ambulance calls.

She had not contacted El Dorado Springs Police Chief Jarrod Schiereck to get clarification before making her public charges in January. She did not contact Ambulance District Manager Chris Loderhose or Cedar County Sheriff Leon Dwerlkotte, both who were at the Monday night meeting, before airing her charges. An ambulance official said that if Ms. Sinclair was a dispatching professional, she would realize someone cannot determine what is really happening from listening to the police scanner.

Likewise, Board Member John Wilson, publicly asked the CMH staff present about something he “had been told” but didn’t bother to check out before his indictment – that just minutes after a Cedar County Ambulance had been sent to Bolivar to transfer a patient to Kansas City, an emergency call came in from Stockton and an ambulance had to be called in from out of town to transport the patient. One of the ambulance attendants who took that call told Wilson that the call he questioned was an emergency call for a patient in Stockton.

Dennis Winston, the only candidate for the board from District 3, repeatedly interrupted the meeting to give his opinion on dispatching even though Board Chairman Leroy Sousley repeatedly told him to keep quiet. Winston, the former Cedar County district manager for St. John’s, is reportedly still an employee of St. John’s/Mercy which would appear to be a conflict of interest when he takes a seat on the board which supervises a rival hospital’s operation.

During the financial report by CPA Kalena Kenney, Board Member Sue Rice challenged Ms. Kenney’s report saying the figures did not add up as they should. After a lengthy debate with Ms. Rice, Ms. Kenney explained that the dollar figures did not match up because some of the bills had not been approved for payment.

Ambulance District Manager Chris Loderhose reported that during Janaury there were 95 calls for the El Dorado Springs ambulance and 75 for the Stockton ambulance. He gave a report by ambulance on miles driven and fuel used.

He reported that for the month, CMH had an operating margin of $11,949 on its ambulance operations in Cedar County.

Loderhose reported that the county received $18,505 in FRA reimbursements during 2012.

Board Member Wes Spinks gave a report on the current status of dispatching in the sheriff’ office, the current status of dispatching in the El Dorado Springs police department and recommendations he had developed by talking to several people in the business.

Spinks reported that he found that one dispatcher handles all the calls to the sheriff’s office – land lines, cell phones and foot traffic.

Spinks report found the El Dorado Springs police department dispatching operation well organized.

Spinks made three recommendations, based on his contacts, for the Cedar County Sheriff’s dispatching operation:

1. Obtain and install an E-911 system with different phones or rings for 911 and non-emergency/administrative calls.

2. Two dispatchers on duty from 7:00 am to 3:00 am. (From 3:00 am to 7:00 am one fully trained person could handle the call load.) Ideally one would be a call taker, the other would handle the radio and dispatching. This would allow the call taker to stay with the caller until emergency responders arrived. The call taker would always be fully trained and competent with Emergency Medical Dispatching.

3. Further and continued training for all call takers and dispatchers every 4 months.

Chairman Sousley said was his understanding that the sheriff’s office would add a second dispatcher with the nearly $48,000 in funding provided by Citizens Memorial Hospital. The sheriff’s office, which must get its funding from the Cedar County Commission, has not added a second dispatcher.

On a motion by Matney, second by Wilson, the ambulance board voted to give Spinks’ report to the Cedar County commission. Rice abstained.

The ambulance board entered into a lengthy debate about how to invest its $612,130 in cash. Rice had done research on rates being paid on certificates of deposit. Finally the board voted to put $120,000 in a CD in Community Bank for two years and move another $100,000 out of Great Southern (where the board has more than the $250,000 insurance limit) into Community Bank.

On a motion by Spinks, second by Sousley, the board voted to accept the low bid of $92,985 from American Response Vehicles for a 2013 Chevrolet 4500 chassis and remounting of an ambulance box on it. The vote was four in favor with Matney and Wilson voting no without any explanation.

The board took up the sending of a letter to various emergency entities in Cedar County to ask if they need some of the surplus radios and pagers the ambulance district owns. Sousley said that the motion by Wilson at the January meeting to do that was a conflict of interest because Wilson is a first reponder. Sousley had an opinion letter from Board Attorney Frank Foster that said it was not an outright conflict of interest but said that the board could reaffirm the action.

There was also discussion about whether it would be legal for the board to sell property to an entity which is tax supported.

Finally, Rice made a motion, seconded by Matney, to send the letter to all eight emergency agencies in the county unless it is learned for sure that the three who receive tax dollars are ineligible, then to send it only to the remaining five. The vote was five in favor with Wilkson abstaining. The fire departments which may receive tax support are El Dorado Springs, Stockton and Chapel Hills. The ones which may not are Olympia, Jerico Springs, Caplinger Mills, Cedar County Emergency Management and Cedar County First Reponders.