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Seat on SCAD board to be contested

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Purchase this photo at dailystatesman.com MIKE MCCOY- mmcoy@dailystatesman.com Marc Oberkirsch, territorial manager for Stryker, demonstrates a motorized cot manufactured by his company, at left. The cot will lift up to 550 pounds without any lifting by emergency personnel. This week another representative, this one with FERNO, showed the benefits of a motorized cot manufactured by his company.

Statesman Staff Writer

For the first time in many years there will be a contested race for the Stoddard County Ambulance District (SCAD) Board of Directors. Incumbent Sam Huey, who is also president of the board, drew an opponent in April 2 election. Huey, of Dexter, will face Tony Stephens, also of Dexter. The official filing period closed Wednesday morning. SCAD Manager David Cooper told the board of the filings for the position at their regular meeting last week.

In other action, Cooper asked the board to approve final amendments to the 2012 budget. He said estimated revenues in the budget were $2,927,999 while the actual revenue was $2,901,120. Estimated expenditures in the budget were $2,881,130 while actual expenditures were $2,917,493. The budget includes a cash reserve of $1,100,996. The board approved the amendments by a unanimous vote.

Cooper also provided the board with information on expenditure percentages for line items in the 2013 budget. The statistics show that 45.70 percent of the expenses of the district go for salaries, 13.72 percent for benefits and staff expenses and 14 percent for capital projects. The next largest item was for ambulance fuel and maintenance/repairs at 6.53 percent. He said he thought it was useful information for the board.

The board approved an exception to the paramedic tuition program in place in the district. SCAD has a policy allowing those receiving paramedic training to be reimbursed for educational expenses not to exceed $6,000. A prospective candidate would receive $1,500 for every one year of work for the district. The policy was adopted to help attract quality personnel as employees of the district. Candidates for the tuition program are selected on a case-by-case basis.

Assistant Manager Chuck Kasting said he had been approached by a paramedic from another entity about working for SCAD. He said the paramedic's educational expenses were being paid by that entity in a program much like the one in Stoddard County. He proposed that the district buy-out the other entity. In this case, SCAD would pay the other entity money they invested to train the paramedic based on the same length of service with SCAD as provided in the tuition program. He said it would be much the same as paying for education expenses under the current policy. He also said such cases would have to be approved on an individual basis.

Kasting said it was getting harder to find qualified paramedics.

"This opens up more avenues for us," Kasting said.

Board Member Al Banken questioned whether this would cause hard feelings between districts competing for employees. Kasting said as long as the other entity was compensated for the money they spent for training, he didn't believe it would be a problem. He said the potential employee in question would be an asset to the district.

The board voted to approve offering the paramedic employment with the understanding that SCAD would reimburse the district with which he is formerly employed for money it expended in return for his employment. Present at the meeting were Huey, William Nelson, Banken and Chad Maddox. Not present were Sue Welborn and Rick McLean.

Cooper told the board that the district had received Statewide Communications equipment, but it has yet to be installed. He said the district received $4,000 toward the purchase of the equipment from a grant, and he was hopeful the district would receive more when another round is announced in February.

"I am real excited about his new system," said Cooper. "It will improve communications in the county and coordinate all communications across the state among a variety of agencies."

Cooper said local channels will be provided to allow district staff to talk directly with the State Patrol, local law enforcement, other ambulance districts and other cities.

The board approved the resignation of Jason Merritt as a paramedic. Kasting said the district hated to lose Merritt. Merritt is attending nursing school full-time. Kasting said he asked to continue with the district on a part-time basis.

The meeting opened with Pete Sansone, an account manager with FERNO, making a presentation on motorized cots manufactured by his company. He gave a background of the company which began manufacturing EMS transport equipment in 1955. He showed a video of a new motorized cot being offered by his company in July. He said the cot is being "beta tested" currently. He said it is part of an integrated patient transport system. The cot would lift up to 700 pounds through battery operated motors. He said the cot required no lifting by the employee and locked securely in the ambulance once loaded. He said the projected cost of the new cot would be around $20,000 to $25,000.

At a previous meeting, Marc Oberkirsch territory manager with Stryker, made a similar presentation for motorized cots manufactured by his company. He brought a motorized cot and demonstrated it for board members. The cost of those cots was approximately $40,000 per cot.

Kasting said the district was looking at a new transport system as a way to lower insurance costs, provide better service to patients and make the job safer for its employees. He noted that the old cots had to be manually lifted, and the motorized cots made it easier to lift heavy patients.

Kasting said both systems by FERNO and Stryker would fit in SCAD's current ambulances with minor modifications.

No action was taken by the board on purchasing new cots.

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