Letter to the Editor: Feb. 10, 2015

Published 12:07 am Tuesday, February 10, 2015


To the Editor:

It is the responsibility of publicly elected officials to provide and maintain clear and open communication with their constituents, especially on matters of medical emergencies. It is very clear Beaufort County officials have not done so on the matter of Chocowinity EMS transporting patients from Vidant-Beaufort to Vidant Greenville. Vidant Beaufort Hospital no longer operates its own ambulances and delays have been experienced when patients have had to be transported. Chocowinity EMS stepped up to help, but Beaufort County officials, without explanation, have tried to stop this needed service.

On July 7, 2014, Chocowinity EMS notified Beaufort County officials that effective Aug. 1, 2014, they would then have a fully-staffed second ambulance and would begin transporting patients between Vidant-Beaufort and Vidant Greenville when deemed necessary by authorized medical personnel. However, this second ambulance would not provide this service if the first Chocowinity ambulance had responded to a 911 call. The second ambulance would then be held at the station house until the first ambulance was available for the next 911 call.

On Aug. 5 the Beaufort County Emergency Management director notified Vidant-Beaufort County to stop using Chocowinity EMS to transport patients to Vidant Greenville, effective immediately. No explanation was provided as to why this action was taken. (It’s my understanding this is still the case.) Chocowinity EMS was justifiably concerned and filed a lawsuit in hopes of continuing this needed service. The judge ruled in Chocowinity’s favor, ordering Beaufort County officials to let the EMS transportation service continue. On Dec. 1 service was resumed. On Dec. 15, Chocowinity EMS was then notified that the contract to provide 911 services since 2002 between Chocowinity EMS and Beaufort County would be cancelled effective June 30, 2015. The vote was 5-2.

During all of this time since Aug. 5, 2014, and despite numerous requests from Chocowinity EMS officials, the Beaufort County Commissioners have refused to provide an explanation for their actions. In my opinion this is an indication they know something we don’t know that they do not want us to know. They have also advised it might be necessary to have a new contract drawn up? Why? What is wrong with the current contract?

In my opinion it is not an exaggeration to state that if Chocowinity EMS had stopped service immediately on Aug. 5, 2014, one or more lives would   needlessly have been put at risk as a direct result. Is it not reasonable for us to expect an explanation from the Commissioners for their actions?

Lyle Carlson