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by Patty Cheffey
The Marion County Ambulance District will be facing a delay in getting new chassis for their fleet.
Chief John Nemes updated the Marion County Ambulance District Board of Directors on the new chassis during their recent meeting, at which the board also approved new personnel positions and pay, heard an update on the COVID-positive HIPAA regulation, learned of an attempted server hack and learned of a stress debriefing session.
According to Nemes, the new chassis have been ordered and the chassis production issue has improved a little despite the chip shortage, but with the backlog and slow production combined, expectations for delivery have been pushed back into late 2022.
“Virtually every supplier of material or equipment for a new ambulance has a backlog of six to eight months, making the delay even more complicated and extended,” he said, adding he is staying in close contact with Braun.
Nemes noted that since the district’s need is a remount of the existing ambulance boxes and there is no need to wait for other materials and equipment that a brand new ambulance box requires, he is hoping to push up the timeline.
Even then he still does not anticipate the remounts to be completed before April or May of 2022, but he will continue to push for it.
In other business, Nemes told the board that since the district will be not be replacing an administrative position at the first of the year, he would like to see advancement opportunity created for the field personnel and suggested implementing a mid-level supervisory position or “captain”.
“That position will be able to help cover openings when the assistant chief is off for vacation or otherwise not available and will help the assistant chief with daily duties,” Nemes explained, noting the duties could include inventory management, scheduling, patient charting reviews, maintenance of vehicles and buildings and personnel training.
“Ideally, the district would need one captain on each of the four crews for continuity,” Nemes said. “The district also needs to add field training officers (FTO’s) to each crew for the purpose of training and overseeing the student riders we have throughout the year. They would also help mentor new employees.”
Nemes said he had discussed the situation with the crews who suggested increased training for both new hires and student riders.
The board agreed the new positions would be beneficial to the district and questioned Nemes about the pay difference.
Based on other agencies, Nemes said he and other administrative staff had discussed a $2.25 per hour or $5,000 annual increase for the captain position and a $1.59 per hour or $3,000 annual increase for the FTO positions, both of which the board approved.
Nemes also reported the HIPAA waiver instituted by the state medical director allowing for the location of COVID-positive patients to be shared with public service expired on Aug. 31, and the district is no longer receiving information from the area health departments.
MCAD staff is contacting area representatives to urge for an extension of the waiver through the end of the year at least, citing that crews are able to take extra precautions if they have advance knowledge of a known positive case at a residence or facility.
The district email server had been subject to an attempted attack from an outside source, Nemes said, but it was detected by IT and the server was temporarily shut down as a precaution. No information was lost or compromised.
During that shutdown, additional software was installed and the security protocols increased.
The district hosted a Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) for area agencies who recently responded to a traumatic event. The meeting was attended by area EMS, law enforcement and dispatch personnel who were involved with the event.
“Everyone benefited from the debriefing,” Nemes said, extending a special thanks to Kim Robinson of Mark Twain Behavioral Health for leading the session.
Nemes also reported one of the ambulances had struck a deer while transporting a patient to the hospital but the Ali-Arc bumper absorbed the impact a prevented damage to the ambulance, The patient and personnel on board also were not affected by it.
The crew inspected the ambulance for safety, then finished transporting the patient,” he said, adding the bumpers, which are installed on every ambulance, have saved thousands of dollars in damage over the years and are a valued safety feature.
In his report, Nemes said MCAD answered 573 calls for emergency service in August, including 147 at Base 1 (Hannibal) – 2711; 111 at Base 1 – 2721; 202 calls at Base 2 (Hannibal); and 86 calls at Base 3 (Palmyra). Off-duty or call in crews handled 11 calls, and the Cardinal Glennon unit had 16 transports.
District personnel provided standby/medical presence for multiple events in the area, such as Steampunk Festival, Philly Fun Fest and multiple home football games in the area.
The next meeting will take place on Thursday, Oct. 21, at 5:30 p.m. in the Training Center at the administrative building.