Discussion heated on ambulance dispatch issues

Courtesy photo
Ambulance seen again on July 2 behind Loves/Carl’s Jr.

Courtesy photo
Ambulance seen on June 1st at Ridley’s parking lot.

The White Pine County Commission meeting recessed its meeting for a special meeting of the White Pine County Fire Commission, Wednesday, July 26.

Commissioner Shane Bybee resigned as Fire Commission liason for the Fire District, which led into a discussion for a new liaison.

Chairman Richard Howe asked for suggestions for a new liaison. Commissioner Steve Stork spoke by voicing his opinion on whether the Fire Commission needed a liaison when every member of the Fire Commission should be able to ask questions, and request information from the Fire District.

Commissioner Carol McKenzie offered to take the position as liaison. Gary Perea gave a motion for McKenzie to serve as liaison, but a second wasn’t made by any of the other commissioners.

Howe asked again for a second, and the commission was silent.

Howe said, “Carol has volunteered to take that position, I have no problem with that, does anyone have any other comment of that?”

Stork said “I want it to be known as the Fire Commissioner I feel I have the right to ask any questions to the district, and we shouldn’t have to go through the liaison.

Perea said, “I think we need to designate someone on the board so that the chief has someone to talk to. Much discussion went back and forth between commissioners on whether there is a need for a liaison, and if no vote could be made then the chairman of the board would be assigned to bring a representative to the fire district from the fire commission.”

Howe said “I am the least qualified person on this board as far as knowing the most about the fire board, but I am a pretty neutral person and we do need a liaison so if that’s the case, I will take it because we don’t have anyone else.”

Stork still pushed forward noting that he felt as though it should be as a whole, instead of a liaison.

District Attorney Mike Wheable informed the commission that they don’t have to have a liason as long as everyone is minding their p’s and q’s, before they initiate a conversation with the fire district.

“You need to ask have you spoke to any others commissioners about this”, said Wheable. There was no unanimous vote, therefore the fire board will act in a capacity, they would do the research, and in the event of an emergency the Fire Chief would report to the chairman.

The next item on the Fire Commission agenda was requested by Bybee and Sheriff Dan Watts for discussion or possible approval to review the dispatch policy and procedures for amendments.

Bybee said, “I put this on the agenda, because there was a situation recently, that I will let him explain.

Watts stood before the commissions and said, “We spoke about this before, we’ve seen the ambulance all over, everywhere but the station, it was brought up and the Fire Chief brought it up that he was made aware of it, that he made a policy that it wouldn’t happen anymore.

“Well it continues. We need to come up with a written policy. I can bring up an instance where a gentleman was pounding on the fire station door, having a heart attack, he called 911 and says ‘I’m at the fire station, I can’t get anybody.’ The ambulance was apparently out by the prison, but we (dispatch) didn’t know where they were. And that’s the problem. Lund, Baker calls in when their going to be away from the station they dispatch in”.

Watts noted that when stations call in, it is good because then they know where they are and they know who to dispatch.

When dispatch doesn’t know what’s going on, he doesn’t want to be responsible for taking on that liability. Changes need to be made.

Howe stated to Watts that some of his statements were accusatory, and that Watts was accusing the department of not doing their job.

Watts said, “No, your reading into it.”

Wheable interjected by commenting that there are some issues that could be firmed up so that dispatch is on the same page, but he also noted that without stepping further into the conversation during an open meeting he believed that the sheriff was looking to the fire commission for standard policies so they are all on the same page.

Watts said, “The city does it, Baker, Lund … if we know where they’re at then we can make the next call to call someone else out to respond. It was evident that there needs to be a written policy and dispatch needs to be made aware of the different stations and departments whereabouts,, but there were still a lot of frustration being relayed.”

McKenzie said “I’m going back to this response that you have to go run back out and get a fire truck…but there are times of a false call, that they may be clear across town from the other vehicle that you need. That’s the reason we have the system that you call the next one in line. Call them and say where are you?”

Watts said “So you want dispatch to turn around and keep calling?”

McKenzie replied with “No, only in the instance of when their trying to call them, and you have an instance when a fire call comes in.”

Stork said, “I think the proper protocol would be whenever they leave the station, they dispatch, what they’re in, where they’re going so you can keep track, Carol, on May 10 you made a statement that they advise dispatch of their location, we’re being told that’s not happening. That’s the problem.’

Fire Chief Tim Woolever spoke up and said ,“Mo debate it will happen”,

Stork said “I’m hoping today that in one of our sessions later today were able to have some frank discussions and disclose some information, and maybe in the future we need to agenda some of this stuff, for public discussion and public consumption. Right now I think there’s a few lines of communication and part of us are getting it and part of us are not.”

Howe agreed with Perea by putting this on the next agenda for a better understanding and more clear direction of the Fire Commission. The last agenda item was for a closed personnel session for Woolever. The session was to consider his character, alleged misconduct, professional competence, physical or mental health in relation to his job performance.

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