In a Friday afternoon meeting of Covington City Council, discussions regarding the city’s emergency medical services (EMS) continued from the monthly meeting held Tuesday.
Starting Tuesday night, the city began utilizing paid EMS staff to respond to all emergency services calls.
“I talked to Greg [Burton] for a good while this afternoon about some things. We didn’t get here overnight; this is something that has happened over a period of time,” Covington Mayor Tom Sibold said.
Sibold also emphasized a need to come up with a plan to move forward.
Covington City Manager Richard Douglas then presented a plan that was deemed as a short-term fix over a period of 120 days that will take effect Monday.
During these 120 days, city council will evaluate options to come up with a long-term solution to the EMS situation.
A part of that plan is that the city will utilize an organization called American Medical Response through an emergency procurement on a contractual basis.
AMR staff will be utilized from Friday 7 a.m. to Monday 7 a.m.
Douglas then stated that the remainder of the week will be covered with paid and volunteer personnel on the Covington Rescue Squad.
Tuesday and Thursday would be covered with a full-time paid employee (Tim Yancey) and a combination of paid part-time employees.
Monday and Wednesday would pair paid staff with volunteers.
The additional costs that are incurred under the 120-day plan are $103,123.
“We have the funds in our budget currently to move forward,” Douglas said. The 120-day plan was approved by a 5-0 vote.
Following the presentation of the 120-day plan, Sibold opened the floor up for public comment.
Among the individuals to address council was Covington Rescue Squad President Fran Burton.
“I will say that the city is not being 100 percent truthful in telling the whole story of what happened, which I feel is unfair to the squad,” Burton continued.
Burton then stated that she and her husband Greg, who is captain of the squad, spoke with Covington Police Chief Anthony Morgan to put together a plan on what they can do.
Mrs. Burton said the she felt the plan of having four volunteers on call at all times was foolproof.
Burton also stated that she was disappointed that city council did not have trust in what the volunteers were doing during their hours on call.
“We feel that we’re pretty much being kicked to the curb,” Burton said.
Burton then made a final point to city council in which she felt that her and her fellow volunteers would provide more coverage than any paid personnel that would be brought in.
Later in the meeting, while Mr. Burton was addressing city council, the trust issue with the rescue squad came up due to discussion of a missed call that led to a death.
Covington Vice Mayor David Crosier said of the trust issue, “That’s not what happened Monday morning. You had somebody. There are many times I’ve sat with people in the firehouse and they’ve said, ‘I have my 32 hours, I’m good.’ ”
Another issue of trust was discussed when Mr. Burton asked Douglas if any of his plan was taken into account when making the 120-day plan.
“What people have to go on is your opinion, not ours,” Burton said to Douglas.
Crosier responded to Burton by saying, “That’s what we’ve hired him [Douglas] for, and if it comes right down to it, I would trust his opinion more than I would yours anyway.”