Bertie EMS seeks grant

Published 8:13 am Tuesday, August 26, 2014

ROXOBEL – Bertie County Emergency Medical Services Division Chief Matt Leicester had some good news for the county’s Board of Commissioners at their second regular monthly meeting held Aug. 18 at the Roxobel Community Center.

Leicester informed the Commissioners that EMS response times have been holding around the 10-minute average that the responders have been experiencing for the past six to eight months since the county-maintained program began.

“We are remaining at 94 percent for all calls responded to under 20 minutes,” Leicester said.

The Division Chief then told the board the county has applied for a Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) grant under a new program the agency began over the past two months.

“(It) can give us multiple capital outlay items that could, without this grant, end up costing us between $250,000 and $300,000,” he said. “We’re going to try to pursue this to see what we can get here.”

“It’s a grant that tends to be based on the economic status of the county as a kind of need-based grant,” he added. “We stand a relatively good chance of getting some of that being brand new.”

Commission chair J. Wallace Perry asked and was assured that the FEMA grant is a 100 percent grant with no matching funds.

Commissioner Ronald D. “Ron” Wesson also chimed in that the North Carolina County Commissioners Association has a contact person that will assist with the grant application.

“I’m going to put you in touch with him,” Wesson said, “and he can walk you through the procedures that they’re looking for.”

Leicester also said three paramedic-level openings with the county’s EMS were filled early that week.

“Two of those three are more local than what we’ve had in the past, with one from Martin County and one from Hertford County,” he contended. “We do have some of our own people who are in paramedic class so as we start to have some turnover within the department moving forward some of that can be filled internally; so we are working toward promoting our own people.”

Leicester also said the last of the Non-Emergency Transport (NET) employee positions had been filled.

“Of those ten full-time people, seven of them are from either from Bertie or Chowan counties and two of the part-timers are Bertie County residents so we’re employing our own as much as possible.”

County Emergency Services Director Mitch Cooper filled in with a report on the first 18 days of Non-Emergency Transport in the absence of NET Coordinator Kim Campbell attending the meeting.

“Currently we’ve run 11 non-emergency calls on the BLS (basic life-support) side and four on the ALS (advanced life support) side,” he informed the group.   “The phones are ringing and we’re pre-scheduling calls and we’re starting to see our numbers go up.  We’ve been in conversation with every county surrounding us to get into the franchise agreement and we’ll come before you all when we get our fees paid.”

Cooper said Campbell had done an outstanding job of maintaining contact with both in-county and out-of-county nursing home facilities and that information paraphernalia available to the county’s citizens would be upcoming within the week.

“Slowly but surely we’re pushing forward and we’re looking at this thing growing,” he concluded.

Wesson emphasized that information about the NET available to Bertie residents through the county-run program, is vital.

“Most of you know the county is running the 9-1-1 response service; when they dial 9-1-1 they’re getting the county,” Wesson said. “Now that we’re in the non-emergency transport and you need transport you’re welcome to call anyone you’d like, but understand the county is now providing service in that respect.  When you call the county you’re reducing you own tax burden for supporting the 9-1-1 service, so it’s in everybody’s best interest.”

Wesson said current Vidant Bertie and Vidant Chowan Hospitals President Jeff Sackrison has informed him that the county is moving into an agreement with Vidant Bertie that when a citizen does not have a specific preference (for non-emergency transport) then the county service will be called.

“We’re going to provide the top-level service that our citizens deserve,” he said. “It will be something we, the citizens, pay for. I want to make sure you understand that.”

“We’re here to support the citizens,” said Commissioner John Trent.