EMS stakeholders seeking unity

Published 7:11 pm Wednesday, February 19, 2014




Washington Daily News

Stakeholders in EMS ordinance planning and review met Monday night to further discuss updated policy changes and recommendations for EMS efforts in the county.

Several of the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners, County Manager Randell Woodruff, as well as representatives from EMS squads around the county assembled at the Office of Beaufort County Emergency Services to update what some say is an obsolete system and work out issues between organizations, mainly due to changes in EMS protocols and advances in emergency medicine.

“It’s mostly just organizational problems with resources,” said Curtis Avery, Beaufort County fire marshal and acting emergency manager.

EMS responders, transport companies and the City of Washington are all organizations that operate in Beaufort County and all are affected by this ordinance.

“We are trying to get some unity between these organizations,” Avery added.

A wide scope of issues between these organizations was addressed, including how franchise and municipal operations should be conducted as well as quality control through peer review. The proposed ordinance calls for a nine-member EMS oversight committee, including one county commissioner, a medical director, a continuing-education representative from Beaufort County Community College, one Vidant Beaufort Hospital representative, one representative from Beaufort County Emergency Management, one representative from the Beaufort County EMS Association (its president) and three county residents. The ordinance also allows the president of the EMS Association to represent all of the county’s EMTs in developing policy changes and EMS-related recommendations that are brought before the commissioners in the future. The updated system is intended to create better oversight of EMS efforts in Beaufort County and comply with state laws and regulations concerning EMS policy.

The Monday night meeting was a continuation of the debate and planning for this ordinance.

“There are too many people with too many ideas for it (the ordinance) to come back too quickly,” said Commissioner Robert Belcher.

County officials are considering moving the EMS program to a paramedic level — an expensive proposition — but many hope it will be an investment in the county’s quality of life and will provide county residents with better EMS coverage.

The Beaufort County Board of County Commissioners will meet March 10 to further examine its role in the ordinance, as well as how commissioners will move forward with these medical organizations to finalize updates on the ordinance.