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Debbie Wiseman, director of Crawford County’s ambulance service, addresses commissioners Jim Schultz, front, and Randy Gilmore during a recess in their meeting Thursday morning at the judicial complex in English. Photo by Chris Adams

EMS director upset by comments

Commissioners to examine scheduling, overtime issues at ambulance service

January 05, 2011
Upset by a comment made at the Crawford County Council's meeting in December, the director of the county's emergency medical services filed a grievance with the county board of commissioners at their meeting Thursday morning.

Debbie Wiseman said a comment made by Auditor Peggy Bullington during the council's discussion about an additional appropriation request for the ambulance service of $25,000 for overtime and holiday pay was inaccurate and she deserved an apology.

Bullington told the council, after members expressed serious concern about the request, that there were only a couple of emergency medical technicians with excessive overtime. Later in the discussion, she noted that the director was one of them.

"The supervisor is the one who gets the most overtime," she said. "There's no reason to beat around the bush."

Wiseman told the three commissioners that statement was not accurate.

"I don't have the most overtime," she said, adding she has pay stubs to prove it.

Bullington, as auditor from 2003-10 (she couldn't run for a third term because of term limits) was responsible for issuing county payroll checks, said she stands by her statement.

Wiseman, who was not at the council's meeting, said she was disappointed to read the comment and later a statement in the reader comments about the ambulance service in the newspaper.

"I think the slurs need to stop," she said.

As emotions began to run high, the commissioners took a recess.

During the break, Wiseman told commissioners Jim Schultz and Randy Gilmore that she has been director, in addition to still serving as an EMT, for 11 years and receives just $6,000 extra per year for the additional duties, which exceed the amount she is being paid.

Following the recess, the commissioners, who told Wiseman she instead should address the council since the statement she is upset about came during its meeting, turned their attention to the overtime issue, including action taken by the council.

The council at its meeting voted unanimously to send a letter to the commissioners and each EMT stating that overtime would not be funded after Jan. 2.

Gilmore said more part-time EMTs are needed to ensure that overtime is kept in check.

"The part-timers I've got who can work, I'm working them to death," Wiseman said. "You can look at the pay roster."

Ricki Hawkins, chief deputy auditor who Jan. 1 became auditor after being elected Nov. 2, said it is her understanding that the council understands that overtime may be needed at times but wants to know ahead of time when there will be a lot.

Wiseman said the nature of emergency services makes that difficult, as overtime tends to come in spurts without warning.

"You can't predict how many runs are going to come in," she said.

EMTs could previously bank up to 480 hours of comp time, but the commissioners, at the recommendation of a committee to address the county's financial situation, did away with comp time a few years ago. Wiseman, however, said it was easier to schedule part-time EMTs with comp time.

Hawkins said the council chose Jan. 2 as the cut-off date for additional overtime partly because it knew the commissioners would meet on Dec. 30 and, if it needed to readdress the matter, it could do so at its Jan. 3 reorganization meeting.

The commissioners, wanting to get more details about the council's thoughts, voted to have their reorganization meeting the same day. The commissioners were to meet an hour before the council then go into recess so they could attend the council's meeting and then reconvene their meeting.

An account of the meetings, which occurred following the deadline for this week's paper, will appear in next week's issue.

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    January 06, 2011 | 08:46 AM

    It is a shame that our commissioners put every thing else ahead of our safety. How many lifes have they saved by car wrecks, Homes on fire and people need 1st aid. I wonder what would happen if one of our commissioners had a automobile wreck and EMTS cant go we have used up all of our time.

    John Braham
Schuler Bauer
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