Cooper takes position as WCCAD commissioner

Wednesday, November 17, 2004
Incoming Western Carroll County Ambulance District (WCCAD) Commissioner Gary Cooper, left, from Oak Ridge Park, and outgoing WCCAD commissioner Scott Link smile for the camera at Friday's monthly meeting. Bob McVey will become the new secretary/treasurer and Fred Pierson will move into the chairman's spot. CCN / Kathryn Lucariello

The Western Carroll County Ambulance District (WCCAD) said goodbye to Chairman Scott Link Friday and welcomed Gary Cooper of Oak Ridge Park for a three-year term.

WCCAD also wrestled with issues of whether to fund 911 dispatchers and fully equip 15 new Emergency Medical Responders (EMRs).

Link recapped his last three years on the commission, noting "what a mess" he and past Chairman Bob Grudek had come into with lawsuits against the district and an invalid contract with Eureka Springs for ambulance service, both issues which were resolved during their tenure.

He praised the commission's success at funding EMRs with equipment and training and helping to establish tracking of equipment.

The commission considered once again how to spend excess reserves.

WCCAD makes a contract payment of $70,000 twice a year to Eureka Springs to provide ambulance service. Currently it has a balance of $346,000, $276,000 of which is tied up in certificates of deposit.

Link suggested talking to legal counsel to see if the district could reduce the tax burden on the public, i.e., suspending collection of the 2-mil tax on real and personal property until the excess reserves are used up, and then returning to collecting the tax.

He said 15 percent of the 2 mils goes to operation of the district, 10 percent for the EMRs and 5 percent for the commission's overhead.

During the requests for payment portion of the meeting, WCCAD considered a request to help fund certification of priority emergency medical dispatchers. WCCAD is being asked to help fund that training.

Link said he had a problem with that because dispatchers are employees of the city and the contract with the city should already be covering dispatching emergency calls to the district.

As Eureka Springs is already paid by contract, funding them would be paying twice, he said.

"They are employees of the Eureka Springs Police Department, and Eureka Springs pays part of that, but they don't charge Holiday Island or Grassy Knob to dispatch to us," said Holiday Island Fire Chief Jack Deaton. "They are volunteering their time to dispatch to us and communicate with our First Responders."

Eureka Springs firefighter Nick Samac said the priority dispatch was being set up to "keep the patient alive until we get there."

Link agreed but noted dispatchers would also be dispatching calls within the city, which is not part of the ambulance district. He recommended talking to legal counsel for an opinion on whether district funds could legally be used in that manner.

In another request to provide full equipment, including AEDs and radios to 15 new EMRs who have recently completed training, the commission balked at funding the $53,000 request. Eight of the 15 new people are from the Inspiration Point area.

Link wanted to know what happened to equipment issued to an EMR from the Buck Mountain area who recently passed away. He was told it was reassigned to an EMR in the Inspiration Point area whose equipment needed repair.

Samac said there is no problem with "missing equipment" -- it can all be accounted for. He vowed to bring an inventory list to the next meeting.

Commissioner Fred Pierson called for a process for determining the need of equipping EMRs.

The next meeting will be held Friday, Dec. 10, at 2 p.m. at the Eureka Springs Fire Department.

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