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By: Erin Smith

0531CountyCommishEMS
Bradley Kinlaw, front, and David Howell address the Bladen County Board of Commissioners

The Bladen County Board of Commissioners met on Tuesday morning for a budget work session for the FY 2016-17 proposed budget and heard the budget request from Bladen County EMS Director David Howell. The board voted to hire 10 people for EMS and take the funds necessary from the general fund balance and put the quarter-cent sales tax referendum on the ballot for November for the purpose of funding EMS for personnel and equipment. Commissioner Mike Cogdell cast the lone no vote and Commissioner Wayne Edge was unable to attend the meeting.

Howell presented his budget request to the board. He told the board that beginning in January 2016, there were many new requirements which took effect regarding non-emergency transportation of patients such as taking patients for dialysis treatments or transporting bed-ridden patients for medical appointments.

“We try to provide emergency responses and we also try to provide non-emergency transports for dialysis which are usually three times per week, and take patients that are bed-bound from nursing homes to their doctor appointments,” said Howell.

Thus far in 2016, EMS has generated about $1.1 million in revenues, non-emergency transports are about $747,903 and total revenues for EMS thus far are $1.8 million and revenue is still being posted, said Howell.

He told the board that EMS has had experiences where the emergency trucks are all responding to emergency calls and the non-emergency trucks have also responded to emergency calls and this has delayed patients getting to their appointments and treatments.

Howell said the county’s current emergency response time is about 17.2 minutes and the state average is about 18 minutes.

“We are well within the numbers when we get to the scene and get them to the hospital,” said Howell.

He added there are still concerns about adequate coverage of certain areas of the county such as Tobermory, Rowan Fire District, Kelly Fire District, the northern areas of the county.

Howell told the board that EMS has assigned a truck to be a “mid-shift” truck. He said that Medic 5, when not on a call, sits at the intersection of NC 87 East and Elwell Ferry Road in Carvers Creek while the East Arcadia/Kelly unit changes out for the next shift.

“The reasoning is that by doing that, if there happened to be a call in Clarkton, the truck can travel Elwell Ferry Road to NC 211 to Clarkton,” said Howell.

He told the board that he is requesting 10 additional full-time personnel. Howell requested 6 additional paramedic positions and 4 EMT basic positions at a cost of $429,465. He added that he is proposing to reduce the part-time salary by $136,338.

He said the personnel requests plus the general fund allotment of about $669,000 brings his total FY 2016-17 budget request to $962,772.

Commissioner Blanks noted that the original budget request from Howell was for nine additional personnel and none were recommended in the proposed budget.

“The budget message addressed the EMS issue. We don’t have available funds to address those needs. This needs a dedicated source of revenue,” said Bladen County Manager Greg Martin.

It was noted that Home Health is an ongoing financial concern, but is not mandated. EMS is a mandated service and it is a service that can be very costly to the county.

“Can we not find some money? He is asking for nine (positions) and this board is not going to give him any?” said Commissioner Blanks.

Commissioner Charles Ray Peterson made a motion to hire 10 people take the funds necessary from the general fund balance this year and put the quarter-cent sales tax referendum on the ballot for November for the purpose of funding EMS for personnel and equipment. Blanks seconded motion and Commissioner Mike Cogdell cast the lone no vote.

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