City might wait to turn over EMS coverage

Published 7:55 pm Friday, April 8, 2016

Washington’s City Council, during its meeting Monday, will consider adopting a resolution that calls for extending the date to turn over the city’s emergency medical services to Beaufort County until July 1, 2017.

At its March 28 meeting, the council voted 4-1 (William Pitt voting in the negative) to turn over its EMS functions to the county on July 1 of this year. During a subsequent meeting (April 1) of city, county and state officials, the city was asked to extend the turnover date by a year.

Also Monday, the council is scheduled to appoint two of its members to a joint city-county EMS oversight committee working “to come to an agreeable conclusion on EMS contract services for the city with the county,” reads a memorandum from City Manager Bobby Roberson to the mayor and council members. The committee would include the city and county manager, two commissioners, two council members and the city’s mayor, according to the memorandum.

Roberson, in a brief interview Friday, said he believes the council will approve the resolution. “I don’t anticipate any problems with it,” he said.

County Manager Brian Alligood said that if the council adopts the proposed resolution “that gives us the opportunity to have those conversations (regarding the proposed transition) and, hopefully, work something out along those lines. Then, if we can’t come to a resolution on it, then it does give us additional time (to prepare for the transition).”

In March 2015, the city and county agreed to a contract that called for the county to pay the city $154,000 this fiscal year for EMS coverage in the Old Ford and Clark’s Neck fire districts and Washington Park. That contract included a 90-day end-of-term out, which the city is invoking. The current contract amount between the city and county is 10-percent higher than the contract in place for the 2014-2015 fiscal year. That increase reflects costs associated with the city moving its EMS program to the paramedic level. That contractual obligation ends June 30, 2017, according to city documents.

At the April 1 meeting, Allen Johnson, eastern regional director of the state office of Emergency Medical Services, explained that while the county is responsible for ensuring EMS service is provided, state statute does not require the county to provide that service. Such service can be provided by the county contracting with an EMS provider, the county relying on volunteer EMS providers and other options, Johnson said.

City and county officials have said they want to make sure the transition, if it happens, occurs as smoothly as possible and that existing EMS coverage levels in the city and Old Ford and Clark’s Neck fire districts (currently provided by the city) to not deteriorate when the transition takes place.



About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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