City firefighters may respond to medical calls

Thursday, February 17, 2011

An agreement formalizing the use of Shelbyville firefighters as first responders in certain medical emergencies was placed on Bedford County Board of Commissioners' March agenda by the commission's rules and legislative committee, which met Tuesday night.

Bedford County Emergency Medical Services has a state-regulated first responder program. First responders are volunteers who are trained in first aid and who can help get the scene of a medical emergency ready for the arrival of an ambulance crew.

Under the proposed agreement, city firefighters who have first-responder training or better could be dispatched to the scene of a medical emergency in certain situations. They wouldn't be sent out on every call, only when needed -- for example, when the closest available ambulance was some distance away from the emergency and a longer-than-normal response time was expected.

Shelbyville Fire Chief John Habel was present for Tuesday night's meeting; BCEMS director Chad Graham is out of town this week and was not present.

Habel and Bedford County Fire Chief Mark Thomas, who is also a county commissioner, differed on their assessment of the situation. Thomas said Habel had been refusing to sign a first responder agreement for a year. Habel said the agreement was only proposed a few months ago, that he's always been in favor of it, but that he had to get it approved by city government.

Thomas asked the committee to defer action on the agreement, saying he would like to sit down with BCEMS and the city fire department to study it. Habel said the agreement was exactly as presented to him by BCEMS and there was nothing else that needed to be worked out.

Committee member Tony Barrett said he wants to hear more about the agreement but that there was no problem with the committee going ahead and placing it on the full commission's March 8 agenda without a recommendation. The committee agreed.


In other discussion, the committee placed the 1st District commission vacancy on the March agenda. Phillip Vincent, one of two 1st District commissioners, died Feb. 6. The committee also tentatively placed a proclamation honoring Vincent on the March agenda, depending on the availability of the Vincent family to attend that night.

The commission will appoint a successor to serve until the next general election.

The committee placed two seats on the Agriculture and Education Center Board and two seats on the Emergency Communications District (E-911) board on the March agenda. One of the E-911 appointments is to correct a mistake made during this month's commission meeting. Commissioners mistakenly appointed two E-911 members from the same district, the 8th.