ambulance board

Charlie O'Neal, executive director of Barren-Metcalfe County Emergency Medical Services, standing, speaks during the ambulance service's board of directors meeting Wednesday. From left are board members Ervin Sorrell, Neil Thornbury, Harold Stilts, Joe Middleton, Micheal Hale and Fay Neal and staff members Steve Powell, chief financial officer, and Garland Gilliam, assistant director. Melinda J. Overstreet / Glasgow Daily Times

GLASGOW – The board of directors for Barren-Metcalfe County Emergency Medical Services is asking state officials to combine into one the two separate licenses it holds for the two respective counties it covers.

Charlie O'Neal, executive director of the ambulance service, presented the board members at their special meeting Wednesday with the draft of a letter he had prepared as the result of a discussion at their October meeting.

“We talked about, at the last meeting, the cost efficiencies that are associated with reducing the number of ambulance licenses that we retain and also the tremendous reduction in administrative paperwork that would be required to just maintain one license versus two,” he said.

He said it would probably save the service more than $1,000 per year.

Board member and Metcalfe County Judge-Executive Harold Stilts said, “Metcalfe County's license – I hope it never happens in the future, [but] if they ever need it, where would it be?” He asked whether that county would have to reapply for a license in that instance.

O'Neal said that a request would have to be made to the state board to separate them.

Joe Middleton, chairman of the board, said the current licenses are both owned by the ambulance service board, so for Metcalfe County, per se, to get its own license, “this board would have to relinquish those licenses to Metcalfe County.”

O'Neal said the change would take effect Jan. 1, because the licenses are issued by calendar year.

With all six members present, the board unanimously approved sending the request.

Over the past year or two as some issues were being resolved, particularly with regard to what portion of the service's deficit each county's taxpayers should cover, the idea of a split had been explored by some.

After the meeting, Middleton said the only current protection from separating the services is a board decision to relinquish the license to some other entity to operate in either county. If a decision to split the service by county were to be considered in the future, having to first re-establish two different licenses would add at least one more step to the process of severing that tie.

“The goal is to make it more difficult and to assure both citizens of Barren County and Metcalfe County that this board has no interest in dividing the service,” Middleton said. “This board is committing to operating and covering prehospital health care in both Barren and Metcalfe counties. And doing this step will be one more step in assuring that.”

He said the lengthier process would add opportunities to work through issues to resolve them, and be another layer toward helping to prevent knee-jerk decisions.

Other business included:

• Brian Pack, the ambulance service's attorney, discussed a response to the latest letter he had sent to the board of directors for the Glasgow Municipal Airport, where the ambulance service is leasing the land on which the airport station was built. O'Neal has said it was his belief the airport entity had no intention of continuing the lease after the 20-year term has expired in roughly nine years, and an exchange of correspondence has sought to clarify that. The response letter, penned by airport attorney Woody Gardner, says the board “has no idea where [O'Neal] got that impression.” The two five-year extensions allowed via the lease agreement have always been acknowledged, the letter states.

“The current Airport Board is committed to finding cooperative ways to keep air ambulance service and services of the Ambulance Service Corp. Inc. (which does business as BMCEMS) available to the citizens of Glasgow and Barren County,” the letter states.

Gardner notes that no one knows who will be on ambulance and airport boards by the time the lease expires.

“You may be assured, however, that the historical support of vital services to the citizens of our area, at a reasonable and fair cost, will undoubtedly be supported by the then-members of the Glasgow Airport Board,” he concluded, and Pack said he liked that ending.

Pack, without going into the details of most of the letter, copies of which had been provided to the ambulance board members, said “I take it as a very favorable response overall,” also noting the unknown of who will be making the decisions down the road, “so there's some difficulty in the request that we made.”

He said he thought the airport board had given them all they could at this time, saying essentially that they were open to renewing the lease without outright promising it. Pack said he didn't know of any further steps they should take right now.

• Middleton said Brian Pack, the ambulance service's attorney, O'Neal and he were supposed to have met Wednesday morning with the Glasgow city attorney, mayor and director of the Barren-Metcalfe Emergency Communications Center in Glasgow to discuss a proposed dispatching services agreement, but the city attorney, Danny Basil, had asked to postpone it. Some of the items in the proposed agreement needed to be brought before one of the two boards of directors that oversee different aspects of the dispatch center, and they were rescheduling the Wednesday meeting for Dec. 4.

• O'Neal reported that 22 percent of the budgeted deficit had been incurred 33 percent into the fiscal year, which began July 1.

• O'Neal said the new furnace that had been needed for the headquarters building had been installed and is working quite well, and issues with water getting into that building appear to have been remedied.

• The board's regular meeting for December, which would fall on Christmas Day, was cancelled. A special meeting is likely to be scheduled to obtain more information about some proposed legislation that was discussed as well as to follow up on the discussions regarding dispatch arrangements.

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