A pay increase was approved for personnel of the Barry-Lawrence Ambulance District during the June meeting. Activity by ambulance crews spiked over last year's level due to record runs in May despite unusually low call requests in April, according to reports reviewed by board members at their May and June meetings.
Pay increases, approved at the June meeting, gave 25-cent-per-hour hikes for full-time field personnel and 50-cent-per-hour increases for on-call field personnel. The move, though delayed from when wage schedules are usually set, enabled the district to continue giving wage increases every year. According to Office Manager Jeaneittia Pierce, increases were only for field personnel. Wages did not change for the administrative staff.
Run levels have continued to show significant variance from month to month. While the January runs were at the lowest level in five years, April runs were more similar to 2006 and 2007 totals, down 14 from 2008. Of the 164 runs completed, 63 went to Cox Monett Hospital, 54 to Springfield hospitals, eight to Joplin hospitals, eight to the Aurora and Cassville hospitals and 14 to local nursing homes.
In contrast, crews in May answered 273 calls for service. The major contributor to the high run list was a school bus accident at Farm Roads 2080 and 1100, four miles east of Purdy, on May 4. The westbound school bus on its morning run collided with a northbound pickup, sending the pickup driver to the hospital.
According to Jerry Lingo, Purdy R-2 school superintendent, the ambulance crew transported the pickup driver from the scene and looked over each of the 31 children on the bus for injuries, thus elevating the number of patients served. Lingo said one child had a small bump on the head and was able to stay in school.
Another bus was sent to the scene to bring the children to school. The damaged bus was repaired and returned to service that afternoon, Lingo said.
The bus accident set an all-time record for patients served in any month, topping the 252 patients of record for May 2003 after the tornado that cut from Pierce City across the district. Since the children last month were not transported from the scene by the ambulance, reported Pierce, May 2003 still holds the record for the number of patients transported.
The total pushed the year-to-date tally to 211, the highest for the first five months of the year in five years.
Of the 185 runs completed in May, 77 went to Cox Monett Hospital, 71 to Springfield hospitals, 10 to Joplin hospitals, nine to Aurora and Cassville hospitals and 13 to nursing homes.
In recent personnel action, Jason Mills was hired as an on-call paramedic. Richard Pierce moved from full-time to on-call status as an emergency medical technician and resigned his duties as public relations coordinator. Jessica Winder took on the public relations duties. Stephanie Heston moved from on-call to full-time status as an emergency medical technician.
In April, the district paid for 580.75 overtime hours, including almost 177 that were not scheduled. In May, almost 650 overtime hours were paid, including 231 unscheduled hours.
Operations Manager Jim Liaromatis got approval for scheduling adjustments that enabled him to keep employees working on specific days of the week. By using a flexible schedule, Liaromatis hoped to use more part-time people to reduce overtime.
Since the beginning of June, Liaromatis has implemented the helicopter emergency lift program (HELP) in coordination with the Monett Police Department's dispatchers. If certain criteria are met by an incoming "911" call, indicating a stroke, heart attack or life threatening condition, a dispatcher can immediately call for a helicopter ambulance. Liaromatis said the HELP protocol has been gaining wider use around the country, and should save time in critical situations.
The education report showed four students are presently attending classes for emergency medical technician training offered by the ambulance district. Final exams will be taken when ride time with ambulance crews has been finished.