GLASGOW – The governing board for the Barren-Metcalfe Emergency Communications Center opted to take no action Tuesday on two requests related to dispatching for the local ambulance service.
Barren-Metcalfe County Emergency Medical Services has proposed a memorandum of understanding with the City of Glasgow to better define what is expected of each party, including how much the ambulance service should pay for dispatching services, and potentially address the issue of the fact that is the only emergency services agency paying for the service.
BMCEMS asked in the proposal for the executive director to have a seat on the governing board and for a particular type of emergency medical dispatch software to be used, neither of which are under the authority of the city, or at least not the city alone.
The governing board was formed through an interlocal agreement among the city and county governmental entities within the two counties. Eight of the 10 members of the governing board are elected officials – two judges-executive, four mayors, a Barren County magistrate and Glasgow council member – and a member at large is chosen by each of the counties. This group oversees the use of 911 fees from telephone bills, and that money is generally used toward one to two management salaries and then equipment for the centers in Glasgow and Edmonton. The city provides the facility space, the rest of the salaries and benefits, operational costs, etc. for the dispatch center in Glasgow.
As discussions and correspondence have taken place between city and ambulance service officials, a meeting that had been scheduled for last week was postponed until next week, partially because the city recognized that it did not have the authority to add anyone to the governing board or to determine the software used and wanted to take those matters before the governing board.
As the board's meeting began Tuesday evening, Beverly Harbison, director of the BMECC in Glasgow, told the board that those two items were the only ones that group needed to discuss, and board chairman Micheal Hale, the Barren County judge-executive, reined in the conversation if it started spreading to other areas.
She said the software requested is not what the center has.
Park City Mayor Larry Poteet asked whether that board could even take action or discuss the MOU, and Hale said it talks a lot about personnel, which does not fall under their jurisdiction, but they could discuss those two particular requests.
Poteet noted that adding a member or changing the membership somehow would require changing the interlocal agreement, which would then require approval by all six of the participating governmental entities. He suggested that perhaps those two requests should be removed from the MOU to be considered separately.
Hale said the dispatch center is a city entity to him, so he asked for Glasgow Mayor Harold Armstrong's take, and the latter said any changes specific to the city entity would need to be resolved between the ambulance service and the city.
Hale asked about the existing software.
Harbison said the center purchased PowerPhone, cutting a check June 20, 2017, and it was added after an EMS needs assessment had indicated EMD was needed. She said it was put on the computer-aided dispatch server at the time and dispatchers started training with it.
“I left in July 2017, and that project was never picked up,” she said, speaking of her retirement at the time. She had returned this year as interim director after her successor left, and she has recently been named to the position permanently again.
Her successor, Chris Freeman, had said at the time he put that project on hold due to transitional and staffing shortages, and then other equipment and software projects later took precedence, but he had fully intended to implement it.
The board paid $61,344 and had agreed to pay for it, she said.
“So we've had that all this time and it's just sitting there,” Harbison said. “When I came back, we had started recertifying the dispatchers. We have been working on getting that software put onto our new CAD system, and we've kind of, the last few weeks have kind of put it on the back burner, waiting to see what this board wants to do as far as the memorandum of understanding that we have before us.”
Priority Dispatch, a different software, is what EMS is requesting.
Hale asked whether anyone wanted to take action on changing the interlocal agreement to change the membership, and after several minutes of the members' looking over that and the MOU and one or two questions, no motion was forthcoming, nor did anyone suggest changing the software.
In other business, the board reviewed some updates to its bylaws, most of which were of a housekeeping nature, and approved them with one amendment suggested by Hale to the proposed draft of relocating the meetings to the training room of the BMECC in Glasgow, which is where they met Tuesday, rather than a conference room in City Hall where they had been meeting.
Linda Wells, the board's secretary, said one of the main revisions in the draft was to remove the reference to a portion of the dispatchers as being employed by the ambulance service, as they formerly were. All are now employees of the city, which is when and why the ambulance service began paying the city for the service, in the spring of 2017.
The board also took up several other routine matters as well during the meeting.