Tallassee Mayor Johnny Hammock voiced his frustrations over lengthy waits for emergency transports at the Elmore County Commission meeting.
Hammock explained to the commission Haynes Ambulance Service was taking more than a half hour to respond to some medical calls.
“We are not here to say anything disparaging about Haynes Ambulance Service,” Hammock told commissioners at their meeting Monday. “We are happy with their service once they get to the scene of an accident or whatever it might be. The problem is we are having significantly long wait times. This is something not new. It’s not COVID-19 related. Especially since 2018 we have had excessively long wait times.”
Hammock said one day in the last two months was especially bothersome.
“Recently we had a person struck by a vehicle,” Hammock said. “We were told the wait time would be 40 minutes. The person had life-threatening injuries and our police officer had to make a decision to load that person into a patrol car and take them to the hospital. That person could have had a broken back or severed their spine and put us at great risk. We don’t have the training or equipment to do that. He was later stabilized at Tallassee (Community) Hospital and life flighted.
“On that same day we had a person call with chest pains. We were told it would be a 35-minute wait time. Those are the only two calls we had that day.”
Hammock said one of the Tallassee ambulances had been staging quite a bit recently at Bush’s Grocery just west of the intersection of Highways 63 and 14.
Commissioner Bart Mercer is the commission’s representative on the Elmore County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Board and offered some insight.
“On the day you are talking about, we had six emergency medical calls at one time in Elmore County,” Mercer said. “We have five ambulances assigned to the county and as calls happen they shift around to provide better coverage. Also with COVID-19, the ambulances require sanitization that requires at least 45 minutes before it can be put back into service.”
Hammock asked about adding more ambulances to the county through the agreement entered into between Haynes, Elmore County and many of the municipalities in Elmore County. The contract between the EMS board and Haynes and co-authored by Tallassee assistant fire chief David Rogers assigns two ambulances in Tallassee, two ambulances in Wetumpka and one ambulance in Elmore. These are at no cost to the county or the municipalities. The contract makes Haynes the ambulance vendor and the only payments Haynes receives are from the patients it transports or payments from patients’ insurance providers.
“My question to you is what is the county commission’s thoughts to get the EMS board to add a couple more ambulances and subsidize Haynes to give us more coverage?” Hammock asked.
“With the county growing, ad valorem has got to be growing. I am not opposed to Tallassee paying some money. Maybe we could split the cost per capita so everybody pays their fair share. We are not looking for a free ride.”
Elmore County Commission chairman Troy Stubbs said the commission is not over the ambulance service provided in Elmore County but does contribute discussion through its representations on the EMS board.
“We are a member of the compact just like the City of Tallassee,” Stubbs said.
Stubbs said the Elmore County Commission also appoints three-at-large members in addition to a commissioner to the 12 member county EMS board. The Elmore County Emergency Management Agency director and the Elmore County Sheriff are also members because of their positions.
Hammock asked about leaving the agreement and the City of Tallassee paying for its own ambulance similar to Eclectic.
“I talked to Mayor (Gary) Davenport and was told it’s about $40,000 a year,” Hammock said.
The commission made no promises on what it might could do but Stubbs and Mercer invited Hammock to an EMS board meeting.
“You are welcome to come,” Mercer said. “We go over the calls. Yes (ambulances) come from Macon County when needed. On the other side of the county, we have had (an ambulance) come from Autauga County.”
Any partner in the agreement can leave the compact with 90-days notice to Haynes and the other members of the agreement.
Due to one vendor no longer providing software to aid in payroll and other benefits, the commission approved Paycor Strategic Industry Group to provide software for a payroll and human resources system at a cost of $3,400 per month. Elmore County chief engineer and operations officer Richie Beyer said Paycor would not charge a setup fee and should be able to complete the transition for the county from the old system.
Commissioner Earl Reeves was absent from the meeting.
In other action the Elmore County Commission:
• Approved minutes of the June 22 meeting
• Approved warrants in the amount of $1,706,648.33 for the period of June 17 through July 1
• Approved awarding a bid for the sale of scrap iron and scrap signs
• Authorized the chairman of the commission to execute documents with the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) for a construction agreement for the widening of Burt Mill Road from Flatrock Road to Highway 14
• Authorized the chairman of the commission to execute documents with ALDOT for a construction agreement for microsurfacing of S. Edgewood Drive and Edgewood Road
• Authorized the chairman of the commission to execute documents with ALDOT for a construction agreement for microsurfacing of Coosada Road
• Approved travel for county employees
• Approved a revision of the job description for the Elmore County Sheriff’s Department warden
• Approved to surplus and auction sheriff’s department vehicles
• Approved personnel hires and promotions
• Was reminded of the annual Back-To-School Sales Tax Holiday Friday through Sunday
The next meeting of the Elmore County Commission is at 5 p.m. Monday, July 27.