First Med shops for local employees

Published 12:29 pm Tuesday, August 6, 2013

WINDSOR – At their July meeting held in Colerain, the Bertie County Commissioners approved a brand new contract for Wilmington-based First Med to provide county-wide Emergency Medical Services beginning October 1 of this year.

Monday at their August meeting held in Windsor the Commissioners received an update on the service which would begin in less than two months.

In addition, when the final draft of the contract is approved, county Emergency Management Coordinator Mitch Cooper will have a new title: that of Emergency Services Director.

New county manager Scott Sauer attended his first commissioner’s meeting when that unanimous vote was taken (4-0 with Commissioner Rick Harrell absent due to illness), and Monday told the board that everything since related to the transition is progressing well.

“This service will bring EMS service at the paramedic level comprehensively throughout our county,” he said. “Since that time Mr. Cooper has been moving with lightning speed to work with the company to get them (First Med) oriented to the community, to meet with the providers.”

He continued, “The county attorney and his staff have prepared a first draft of the agreement that has been sent to the First Med group. We’ve got a budget amendment and (county Finance Officer) Mr. William Roberson has prepared to cover these costs so the program can start on time on October 1.”

“They have really, really worked quickly these last couple of weeks,” he concluded.

Cooper and several First Med representatives in attendance at the meeting spoke to the commissioners on the draft’s status and possible future employment for current Bertie EMT’s.

“Currently right now the contract is in First Med’s hands,“ said Cooper. “They have the draft and hopefully we’re going to have that back sometime this afternoon or first thing in the morning so we can send it out to you all and send back to the attorneys to see what their corrections have been.”

Cooper says one of the current EMS locations had to make some remodeling changes at their facility.

“Aulander is currently updating their building and adding in and increasing the bay-door sizes so we can get the units in,” he said. “We’re waiting for the letters of intent to go out to the three stations which will be located in Aulander, Colerain, and Windsor.”

First-Med has indicated, and Bertie officials have stressed, the importance of hiring as many local EMT’s applying to fill in the service roles.

“As of right now some 68 applicants have applied for positions that will be available in Bertie County, “he elaborated. “We’ve had one open meeting for the EMT’s in the county to come in and apply and to meet with the company and we’re looking to having a second meeting to have them come out so that can have an understanding of what we’re trying to do and to have that opportunity to apply for the positions that are in this county.”

“Our deadline is just 55 days away,” he reminded the group. “So we’re moving along as fast as we can to make sure we get this done. Right now we’re just doing system modification while we wait on the contract to come back from First Med.”

Commissioner John Trent said he was impressed that so far as many as 30 that he knew of had applied for jobs with First Med.

“As soon as we get this contract signed they can start doing their interviews and start the hiring process,” reiterated Cooper.

“We’re very pleased with the response on the applications we’ve received,” said First Med Executive Vice President of Operations Jerry LeCato.

“We’ve had two meetings,” LeCato noted. “One general meeting and another with potential staff where we had 30 people show up to hear what we were offering.”

He added, ”We had a good turnout and we were very happy. They had some good questions and we never heard any negative comments so we were very pleasantly surprised and we look forward to working with them.”

Commissioner Ron Wesson then echoed earlier compliments to First Med for their Bertie-based employment efforts.

“I would just like to commend First Med for the way they have reached out to citizens in the community as part of this negotiation,” Wesson said. “I’m very impressed with that and hope that will continue because what the citizens want here more than anything else is to know that they are a part of the decisions that are made and the way things are running in the county.”

To the First Med representatives, Wesson added, “Make sure you’re close to them, make sure you involve them, and we’re delighted that you’re looking at hiring here because that will go a long way toward connecting you to the people that you serve because these are their neighbors.”

Commission Chairman J. Wallace Perry joked over the speed in which the First Med attorneys would have a contract ready for review, as early as Monday afternoon. That remark drew light laughter from the assembled crowd.

“We’re pushing along on our side,” replied LeCato with a chuckle.

Perry also said a weekend poll of his fellow commissioners indicated that they were in agreement on changing Cooper’s job title and a motion was made and seconded to make the change official.