Morrow County EMS Changes Spark Debate

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Wednesday was the deadline for bids to run Morrow County's Emergency Medical Services and 911 operation.

It is a debate that impacts the entire county and it seems everyone has an opinion - many of them strong - about what should happen.

The same company has run Emergency Medical Services in Morrow County since the early 1970s.

Now County Commissioners are considering a change.

They say they want better response times, better training for staff, and better pay and benefits for staff.

Some say with the current company's history, change is long overdue.

For more than 40 years, the private, non-profit Morrow County Firefighters and Squadsmen Association has run the county's EMS.  Chief Jeff Sparks acknowledges problems, including two embezzlement cases over the last 10 years.

“We weren’t auditing the books internally as we should,” he said, adding he is 100% confident the same thing could not happen again.  “We have created what we term an ‘Internal Audit Review Committee’ that meets every month to review the checks and the balances of what goes in, what comes out."

Morrow County Commissioner Richard Miller says that’s not good enough.

“We should have better internal controls and we should have audited financial statements so that we really know that the books have been looked at,” he said.

In 2012, Morrow County EMS, in a consent agreement with the state, surrendered its Certificate of Accreditation and ceased operating any and all EMS training.  The state's investigation found Morrow County EMS failed to meet several record-keeping requirements related to training, resulting in two people getting certifications they shouldn't have.

“They were given a certification and they knew it was wrong because they both knew that they didn't pass the national registry exam,” said Sparks. “They reported that to us (and) we immediately told them surrender it, and we started the process.  Did it affect anything as far as treating the patients, doing our jobs? Absolutely not. This was 100 percent a paperwork issue."

Again, Miller is dubious.

“The Commissioners have to select the most responsible bidder. And if you have a pattern of these kinds of things taking place in an organization, it's a little difficult to view them as the most responsible bidder.”

Commissioners have received bids from four different companies, including the Firefighters and Squadsmen Association.

They plan to select the winning bid on May 7th, with the contract taking effect December 31st.