Debate over new EMS job heats up | CraigDailyPress.com
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Debate over new EMS job heats up

Six-day window to apply for new position nets one resume

A Moffat County commissioner says he is “ashamed” of Sheriff Buddy Grinstead after the sheriff criticized the county’s proposal to hire an EMS coordinator in Maybell.

In the Dec. 26 edition of the Craig Daily Press, Grinstead questioned the Moffat County commissioners’ proposal to create the new position and was quoted as saying, “I don’t understand what the rush is other than a political promise to someone for employment.”

The county ran an advertisement for the position from Dec. 18 to Dec. 24 and is no longer accepting applications for the job.



The commissioners have received one application for the $35,000 position and plan to make a decision on whether to hire that person at their Jan. 13 meeting.

The applicant is Karen Burley, president of the Maybell Ambulance Service.



Grinstead was invited to the Moffat County commissioners meeting Monday to talk about his stance taken on the issue.

“I have never in my life promised someone employment,” Moffat County Commissioner T. Wright Dickinson told Grinstead. “It troubles me that you would have so little respect for another public official in this county.

“I think you run a little long in the mouth and a little short in respect for other public officials. I’m ashamed of you.”

In the midst of Dickinson’s scolding, Grinstead interrupted saying, “Are you done rambling? I’ll give you one more minute to ramble and I’ll make my statement.”

Dickinson told Grinstead he has taken issue with an area that is the commissioners’ responsibility —

the area of emergency medical services — and not a concern of the sheriff.

“You’re right,” Grinstead responded. “But when my budget gets cut I have to question why it’s getting cut.”

The issue of whether to hire an emergency medical services coordinator first arose last summer after the death of a Dinosaur resident who was waiting for an ambulance.

The Dinosaur ambulance service is not a transport agency and could not take the man to the hospital. The volunteers had to wait for the ambulance service to arrive from

Rangely.

After that incident, the commissioners called a meeting with the Moffat County EMS Council, at which time the commissioners proposed hiring an EMS coordinator for the entire county.

That person would work to improve communication amongst the different emergency medical service agencies in the county, and would assist Dinosaur in becoming a transport agency, the commissioners said.

Many on the EMS council opposed the hiring, saying it wasn’t needed.

Because of the response from the EMS council, the commissioners said they decided to just hire a full-time person to be based in Maybell.

That person, they say, will be available full-time to answer calls, will handle the paperwork for Maybell ambulance service and will assist Dinosaur in meeting the necessary requirements to become a transport unit.

“We had a tragedy happen out in Dinosaur,” Moffat County Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos said Monday. “The fact of the matter is a gentleman died. That is the reason we said this is an important issue now. Thirty-five thousand dollars is not much to save lives.”

Dickinson said the commissioners called a meeting with the Maybell Ambulance Service last fall and they said because most of the volunteers work full time in Craig, there was not enough coverage in the area.

“There’s no one around,” Dickinson said. “They asked us for a full-time person over there. We have talked with them and this is what they asked for.”

Burley has said the service can no longer rely on volunteers.

But Grinstead questioned the commissioners’ rush to hire the new position.

“This seems to be a fast-track item over the last couple of months,” he said Monday. “Can we justify $35,000 for 20 calls a year?”

Grinstead said he thought he had a better answer to improving service throughout the county.

He said he approached the Moffat County commissioners about housing a deputy out in the western part of county three years ago.

“I don’t recall that,” Dickinson said.

“There’s a difference in whether you recall it or if it really happened,” Grinstead responded.

Moffat County Undersheriff Jerry Hoberg said at the meeting that when the plan to move a deputy to the western part of the county was brought forward, the commission did not seem like it wanted to pursue it.

“We said this is what we can do but you didn’t say this sounds like a good idea so we just forgot about it,” Hoberg said.

Hoberg questioned the commissioner’s decision to hire the position despite opposition from other local officials, like Commissioner-elect Darryl Steele and those in the sheriff’s department.

“You guys are going to do what you’re going to do and that’s fine,” he said. “But you have an EMS council. Why wouldn’t you give them an opportunity to come up with proposals on how they think they can handle it?”

In response to the commissioners’ attacks on his remarks in the Craig Daily Press, Grinstead said he has tried to talk to the commissioners in a public forum about the issue.

“This was brought up at a meeting a month ago,” he said. “Is it because it was brought up in the paper that it’s now an issue?”

Moffat County Commissioner Les Hampton told Grinstead that the commission would hear his proposal for a deputy in the county at its Jan. 9 meeting, four days before the commissioners plan to make a decision on the position.

“If you have a proposal, bring it,” Hampton said. “Put up, or shut up.”

Dickinson said others who have said the commissioners’ goal is to have equal ambulance service coverage for all residents in the county have placed the commissioners in a false light.

“And the other bull**** coming out in the paper is we’re trying to get the exact same coverage to all of the county,” he said. “We think that’s impossible.”

Later in the meeting, Grinstead said his proposal would not solve the problem in Maybell.

“I’m glad you said that,” Dickinson responded.

After the meeting, Grinstead said his idea to have a deputy based in western Moffat County trained as a deputy was more far reaching than hiring a full-time EMS coordinator in Maybell.

“It’s not going to replace a full-time ambulance person,” he said again. “But my idea addresses the rest of the county. There are other alternatives that can be explored.”

Hampton said he made some calls after the meeting, and corrected the number of calls it was said

Maybell ambulance makes

annually.

He said Maybell ambulance has made 39 calls in 2002, and has billed out $25,000 in services.

He also said there has been four instances since August in which calls were made but services were not available in Maybell because of a lack of available volunteers.

But Grinstead still questioned the commissioners’ motives in their

decision making, and had an explanation for the frustration expressed by the board in the

meeting.

“Sometimes the best defense is an offense,” he said of the meeting. “They are more concerned about what is said in the newspaper than doing the right thing. I’ve come to them and talked to them but it’s all upon deaf ears.”

But Dickinson said the county thinks it has found a fix to a problem in western Moffat County.

“We recognized we had a problem and we looked at what we thought could be of benefit,” he said. “That’s what Maybell asked us to do to get this problem solved.”

While the deadline has passed to apply for the Maybell EMS position, the Moffat County Human Resources Department reported Monday that it is making changes to the job description at the request of the Moffat County commissioners.


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