PUTNAM COUNTY, OH (WLIO) – Tensions high in Putnam County as emergency workers demand answers. While lights flashed outside, it was inside where all the activity was in the Putnam County courthouse.
The Putnam County commissioners called a meeting after rumors arose that the area could look to outsourcing emergency responses outside the county to a company called HANCO, which caused many emergency workers to become worried, that their service would just go unrecognized.
“We didn’t know it was coming, it got us worried that we were going to lose out EMS because that was what was implied,” said Brian Hilvers, Putnam County Director of Office of Public Safety.
The commissioners opened the meeting by saying that any talk of hiring outside agencies was false and that they would not be proceeding with any idea of that. While they did acknowledge that they looked into the idea, they emphasized to those in attendance that it was only to get information.
“If I didn’t go out and do due diligence to make sure that I got all the data, I can’t make a decision,” says Michael Lammers, Putnam County Commissioner. “The more people that get involved in the decision, usually the better than decision is.”
The commissioners and emergency workers talked about the issue that both sides agreed on: staffing. While also pointing out that the amount of time needed to put into the profession often stresses volunteers.
“Because we do a lot of transports from facility to facility because Putnam County is the only County that does not have a hospital, so we have to travel thirty minutes away to get to another trauma center or medical facility that could handle the appropriate issue with our patient. So an average run takes two to two and a half hours.”
Solutions continued to lie with staffing as well as both sides coming together to understand the responsibilities of EMS, and how they can better address needs rather than exploring outsourcing.
“We are not going to find a solution based on taxing, we got to find more people,” said Lammers. “I don’t know when that is going to be resolved. Here in the courthouse, we have trouble finding help. Every business that I know in the community have trouble finding employees right now.”
“I understand their job of doing due diligence of it, but my job is to make sure that I have the people that are properly available and trained to respond to these calls 24 hours, seven days a week,” said Hilvers. “That’s why I asked them to come ride with us so that they have a better understanding of what we do so that they can make a better decision.”
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