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Decatur EMS worker disciplined after walkout fails

By Chris Paschenko 340-2442

With its operating days apparently numbered, Decatur's only ambulance provider averted a potential walkout Tuesday without detriment to public safety, officials said.

Susan Donahoo, spokeswoman for Decatur Emergency Medical Services Inc., said in a statement that at 10:30 a.m. an employee attempted to orchestrate a walkout.

"No other employees elected to join with this employee," Donahoo said. "And the attempt was unsuccessful. The employee was immediately put on administrative leave."

The statement didn't name the male employee but said, "At no time during this situation were people of Decatur without emergency medical services coverage."

Greg Randolph, owner of Greg's Ambulance Service in Moulton, said Decatur EMS requested assistance.

"We sent a couple of paramedic trucks that stationed there for about one hour," Randolph said, "but they weren't needed."

Fire Chief Charlie Johnson said he informed firefighters at all eight Decatur stations to notify him of any lapse in ambulance service, but no deficiencies were reported.

Gordon Neihardt, manager of the Morgan County 911 center, said Decatur EMS operated Tuesday afternoon with its normal staffing levels.

The reason for the walkout wasn't immediately known, Donahoo said.

"As we spend time working with this employee to determine the reasons he took this step, our priority will be to make sure the high level of emergency response services that the people of Decatur have come to expect from Decatur EMS over the past 11 years is maintained," Donahoo said.

Future uncertain

The future of Decatur EMS is uncertain following a city advisory panel's recommendation that Decatur change ambulance providers.

Six people on the seven-member panel scored Decatur EMS last and ranked Care Ambulance of Montgomery first among six companies competing to become Decatur's sole ambulance provider.

City Council President Billy Jackson has said he supports the council's decision to license only one ambulance provider for the city and its police jurisdiction. The city's EMS Committee has said Decatur can't financially support more than one ambulance service.

A recent 911-center report listed more than 3,400 calls for ambulance services in the city and its police jurisdiction over a three-month period. A council work session to discuss the panel's scoring decision is expected soon, which would then be followed by a council vote on the matter.

Jackson canceled an ambulance work session with the council in December and has yet to set another meeting date.

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