Their voices were heard

Published 5:24 pm Thursday, February 6, 2014

It’s gratifying to see people show up at a public hearing on an issue to provide input, express their views, share the concerns and help government leaders determine what should be done in regard to that issue.

That happened Monday night during the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners’ public hearing on proposed revisions to the county’s emergency medical system oversight ordinance, which is 30 years old. Many public hearings are conducted with few, if any, people showing up to discuss the issue at hand. That was not the case Monday night.

Several speakers at the public hearing took that opportunity to tell the commissioners they believe the proposed revisions contain flaws. They were not bashful in pointing out what they consider as flaws in the document.

Dana Hudnell, a captain with Chocowinity EMS, mentioned something that drew some folks’ attention. Hudnell said he’s concerned the proposed EMS oversight committee only allows for one representative from EMS providers in Beaufort County.

“In fact, this ordinance was never brought in front of the existing (EMS) services here for comment before it went to you. So, that was one of our concerns. We never had input to begin with, so we expect that we may not have input later on down the road if there’s only one our members on that committee,” he said.

Steve Williams, owner of Tar Heel Medical Transport based in Washington, said one of the flaws is that the proposed composition of the nine-member EMS oversight committee does not include a representative from nonemergency transport providers. He also called proposed franchise renewal fees excessive.

“I do believe some changes need to be made in the current ambulance franchise ordinance. I don’t believe that the new ordinance draft is without some flaws,” Williams said.

If the proposed revisions affect EMS providers in the county, one would think they would have been invited to provide input while the proposed revisions were being drafted. That makes sense. When people believe they have some form of ownership in something like ordinance revisions, they tend to support and promote those revisions.

The commissioners listened to speakers’ comments, acknowledging the proposed revisions will need “tweaking” before the final form of the ordinance is adopted.

It was good to see that “speaking” about the proposed revisions will result in “tweaking” of those proposed revisions.