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Ambulance director familiar face

April 20, 2011
John Gott may be new to the recently created full-time director's position at the Crawford County Ambulance Service, but he's not new to the county or its emergency services.

A 1985 graduate of Crawford County Junior-Senior High School, he joined the English Volunteer Fire Department when he was 18. Two years later, at the encouragement of EVFD Assistant Chief Mike Benham, he enrolled in a basic emergency medical technician class sponsored by the fire department.

John Gott, who was recently hired as full-time director of the Crawford County Ambulance Service, reviews paperwork, one of his many new duties. Gott, who began his emergency services career in the 1980s in Crawford County, will function as the department’s full-time administrator, overseeing day-to-day operations.
Following completion of the class, Gott worked as a part-time EMT for the Crawford County Ambulance Service and then neighboring Harrison County Hospital. He became a full-time EMT at HCH in late 1988 and stayed there until 2005, increasing his level of training to paramedic. He left to become a flight paramedic at Air Evac Lifeteam's base in Washington County and, in 2007, became program director of the base, which now is in Paoli.

Gott said he was approached by friends to inquire about the full-time director's position at Crawford County. Interested, in part because of an opportunity to help his home county, he contacted a county commissioner for more information then decided to apply.

Interviewed along with other candidates by the commissioners on March 8, he was offered the job that evening. Gott accepted later that week and began the following Monday, March 14.

"For me, to be able to come back to the service in any fashion is like coming home," he said.

Gott, who will continue his position with Air Evac, said the two positions are similar.

"The job is basically the same, the management of an emergency ambulance service," he said, noting that one happens to be a ground service while the other is a helicopter service.

The commissioners decided to hire a full-time director based on the recommendation of a committee they convened to study concerns they had with the ambulance service. One of the EMTs had also been serving as director, but the commissioners said the responsibilities were too much for a part-time director.

Gott said the commissioners, during his interview, outlined concerns they have about the service, but he doesn't believe any of them are unable to be corrected.

"I don't see it as a major undertaking as far as a problem that can't be fixed," he said.

Gott said the commissioners were worried about the service's revenue, noting that they hoped its reimbursement rate, whether from Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance, wasn't as high as it should be.

At the commissioners' March 30 meeting, Gott proposed that the service outsource its billing to 911 Billing Services, located in Madisonville, Ky. He said he was impressed that the company, which serves Kentucky and Indiana, only bills for emergency services, which helps it stay updated on the complex rules. (See story, front page.)

The commissioners, he said, also expressed concern with the amount of overtime being accumulated at the service. While he hasn't been able to examine past overtime yet, Gott said it is an "unavoidable part of the job" that isn't unique to the Crawford County service.

"It's the nature of EMS," he said, adding it is a "a very unpredictable" field, since emergencies can happen at any time.

Gott said the department has eight full-time EMTs, excluding him, and several part-timers. He said he will make a determination if the part-time roster is adequate or if more part-time EMTs are needed.

The final point the commissioners addressed to him, Gott said, was their desire to see the level of service to be increased. Currently at the basic/advanced level, he said he hopes to advance it to intermediate, or even paramedic, which is the top level. Doing so would allow EMTs to utilize additional tools to reduce pain and suffering and reduce potential damage to brain and heart tissue, he said.

It also would reduce the number of intercepts — runs where a patient is transferred to another service's ambulance at the county line when a higher level of care is needed — as well as increase reimbursement levels, as some private insurers pay based on a service's level of training, Gott said.

Gott and his wife, Terri, live at Ramsey with their two children, Alexandra, 16, and Jack, 12. He has been a member of the Ramsey Volunteer Fire Department for years and is a deputy coroner for Crawford County. He also previously served as a reserve officer with the Harrison County Sheriff's Department.

"I just really enjoy my job," he said, "and I've just really enjoyed working in emergency services."

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