The director of Eudora's Emergency Medical Service wants county leaders to consider allowing his service to break out from underneath the supervision of Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical.
Bill Vigneron, director of the volunteer EMS service, asked Eudora City Council members last week to consider taking over supervision of the program because he thought Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical was not communicating with or being flexible enough with the EMS program.
"There have been some issues that have come to the surface that have been brewing over the years," Vigneron said.
Council members stopped short of making a commitment to bring the service into the city's budget. Instead, they urged a meeting among EMS, county, city and fire and medical department leaders.
"We want to see what the issues are and what the protocols are, but I think everything on the list can be worked out," said Cheryl Beatty, Eudora city administrator.
Among the concerns Vigneron has are:
¢ Eudora EMS members are not allowed to provide some types of medicines or care, even though Vigneron said he thinks his crews have been properly trained to do so. For example, his crews cannot administer albuterol if a person has breathing problems, monitor glucose or administer other certain types of medicines without the supervision of a fire and medical official.
¢ The fire and medical department forbids children or family members from riding in a car as an EMS member travels to a call.
"That just proves to me that they don't know what we're dealing with in Eudora as volunteers," Vigneron said.
¢ The Eudora EMS members were not well notified of emergency response plans related to the microburst event in March.
¢ Several volunteers frequently experience dead spots in their radio coverage.
"The people in Lawrence are focused on Lawrence and Lawrence growth issues and not the issues in Eudora," Vigneron said.
Mark Bradford, chief of Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical, said he would be happy to talk with EMS and Eudora leaders. But he said there were limitations to what EMS members could do.
"As volunteer first responders, there is a limited scope of medical care that those individuals can or should be providing," Bradford said.
He said his department relies on protocols developed by the department's medical director, who also is a Lawrence physician, to determine who can provide what types of care on scene.
Other issues, such as allowing children to ride to the scenes of medical calls, created liability issues for the county if an EMS member became involved in an accident.
But Bradford said that the EMS program is vital and that he wanted to work out any issues that Eudora leaders have.
"They provide a great benefit to the entire community," Bradford said. "We're dependent on them. Our response times warrant the need for them."
Bradford estimated that response times for an ambulance to arrive from Lawrence to Eudora averaged about 12 minutes to 15 minutes.
Eudora EMS crews respond to about 30 calls per month, Vigneron said.
Douglas County Administrator Craig Weinaug said he would arrange a meeting among all the parties within the next few weeks and work to resolve any issues.
"What's probably at the core more than anything else is that there is sometimes a natural friction between volunteer departments and full-time departments," Weinaug said. "Those issues are going to come up, but you just have to work them out because we definitely need both types of services."