As of 8 am on March 1, the Jefferson County Commission officially took on responsibility for ambulance services in the county. For now, the new department will keep the name of the existing agency — Jefferson County Emergency Services Agency. It will be the same people working the day and night shifts (plus a few new hires) that have been staffing the ambulances all along. At the most recent County Commission meeting, Mike Sine, who was named Interim Director of the Emergency Services Agency in February, emphasized that operationally — what happens when a resident calls 911 — the transition will be seamless.
The ambulances are ready to go (see image above for the new look) and leases have been signed with the four volunteer fire companies where ambulances will be stationed (map below). There are still a lot of tasks to be completed to fully transition the administration support for personnel and billing. The County Commission has set a goal of fully transitioning the benefits, billing, and other administrative activities by July 1, but the structure of the existing agency (with its independent board) will remain active until all of the necessary support activities can be integrated into the new department.
Still, many questions remain unanswered. Currently, 8 medic positions remain unfilled. The department has supervisory personnel who can take on some of that load, but competing with surrounding jurisdictions which offer better pay and benefits is an ongoing challenge. Residents of the mountain and south county have concerns about how timely ambulance responses will be (see map). Shepherd University’s athletic conference has specific requirements for ambulance coverage, and the County has not yet resolved that issue with the University with a spring football game waiting on the answer.
By Staff Contributor