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County Commission Retreats From Joint Meeting With Palm Coast Council on EMS

| April 5, 2016

Some county commisisoners see no need for a meeting with Palm Coast over EMS matters, which they see as a non-issue. (© FlaglerLive)

Some county commisisoners see no need for a meeting with Palm Coast over EMS matters, which they see as a non-issue. (© FlaglerLive)

The Flagler County Commission on Monday mostly retreated from its willingness to jointly meet with the Palm Coast City Council to discuss potential changes in ambulance service in the city. Commissioners are questioning whether anything is broken enough to be fixed, and now are adding another reason to warrant at least a postponement of such a meeting until November: the election will certainly turn over three seats on the council, and potentially three on the commission.

The city council is proposing adding two county ambulances to city fire stations and altering the way county and city paramedics respond to medical emergencies, which account for well over 98 percent of all calls for service. The city is looking to decrease response time and, to save money, decrease the number of times its big firetrucks are called out on medical calls. By law, the county provides ambulance service, with the city assisting, usually by getting to scenes in fire trucks.

“Mr. Meeker brought up a great question last meeting,” Commissioner Nate McLaughlin said, referring to Frank Meeker’s skepticism about Palm Coast’s intentions. “What’s broken that we’re trying to fix? And giving this a lot of thought, recognizing that essentially the city council over there are going to have unquestionably three new members that may or may not feel a certain way, I would like to postpone, if the board—I’d just like to put forward that I’d like to postpone any workshop until after the new council.”

Initially, Commissioners George Hanns and Charlie Ericksen agreed. Commission Chairman Barbara Revels was non-committal. The discussion took place at the end of Monday’s meeting, after Meeker had left to catch his latest round of chemotherapy. But after Hanns compared the delay to the delayed hearings in the U.S. Senate over the president’s supreme court nomination—and perhaps remembering that he’s a Democrat who opposes such delaying tactics—Hanns changed his mind. “We have a board that’s elected by people, and I believe we need to make all the crucial decisions prior to any elections,” Hanns said.

The November election could turn0over majorities on both the commission and the council.

Come November, three city council members will be off the council regardless: Mayor Jon Netts, at whose instigation the ongoing EMS discussion has gained momentum, at least on the city’s side, Jason DeLorenzo, who is running for county commission (and could potentially replace Ericksen), and Bill McGuire, who has opted not to run again as he will be leaving town to resettle closer to family in St. Louis. On the commission side, Revels, Ericksen and Hanns are up for re-election. All face opposition, so all three could also potentially be replaced, Hanns’s certainties notwithstanding (“I intend on being here,” the six-term commissioner and longest-serving elected official in Flagler County quipped).

McLaughlin said it wasn’t just about the possible turnover, but about the necessity for a discussion about a problem he doesn’t see. “It’s not been shown to me what the problem is,” McLaughlin said.

Revels said she had no consensus to postpone the joint meeting—but nor did she have consensus to hold talks with the city, she said. Instead, she said she would set up a one-on-one meeting with Netts soon, and more certainly discuss a joint meeting when the county commission meets again with Meeker present, in two weeks.

Reached by phone Tuesday, Meeker said: “I can talk now, I can talk then, whichever way everybody wants to go is fine with me.” He said he’s done his research and is ready to take on the issue.

But he also stressed that McLaughlin’s idea of a postponement was valid. “The validity is, why would the current council want to tie the hands of a future council that will be there in eight months?” Meeker said. “It’s an important discussion, and I think that restraining the new group coming in or forcing it to pick it up and revise a discussion doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. And the same argument goes for us. I can have a major change-over. We’re not pointing the finger at the city, we’re pointing the finger at the process.” He then paused and added: “The other side of that coin is, why make any decisions between now and then? We can’t shut down everything.”

In an interview Tuesday morning, Netts could scarcely hide his exasperation: Revels had written him to seek a temporary delay in a joint meeting, but only to get the county’s new emergency manager caught up with the issue.

“We’ve been waiting for years for an improvement to the system, if that’s their answer, then so be it. I’m not going to fight that battle,” Netts said, more out of frustration than to close the door to conversations: he’d still prefer a meeting. “So you postpone the discussion until November. What have you gained?”

Netts dismissed the notion that he wants to deal with the matter on his watch as a matter of legacy, before he is off the council. “I’ve been concerned about Palm Coast since I moved here,” he said, “I’ve been more concerned about Palm Coast since I got elected, and I’ll be concerned about Palm Coast after I’m off the council. I’m not concerned about a plaque on the wall.”

“All I’m saying is, can’t we just all sit down and talk about it?” the mayor asked. The council is meeting this evening at 6:30 p.m. and may discuss the issue further.




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22 Responses for “County Commission Retreats From Joint Meeting With Palm Coast Council on EMS”

  1. r&r says:

    It’s not broken ,why try to change it?

  2. Tired of it says:

    The County doesn’t want to meet because they have absolutely no intention of moving additional units into Palm Coast , but also won’t give the COPCN to Palm Coast so they can do their own transport. It is a control thing on the part of the County.

  3. confidential says:

    Miami-Dade, Jacksonville-Duval and next should be Palm Coast-Flagler! Tired of county capricious, tyrannical and costly rule!
    County keep raising our already high home taxes going to them when they only supply if so, only 30% of our actual services. Meanwhile with all that overpay they waste in derelict utility plants and overpriced real estate from their buddies and now they want our $$ to also improve the beach without federal funds (because they get ours) and also buy out land by Lake Disston and also renewable energy systems.
    When are we going to stop this financial bleed with Coffey at the helm?

  4. Ida says:

    It is a power struggle….two bully boards who could care a less about the people or our tax dollars.

  5. Derrick R says:

    Ego’s aside, why do we need our own Ambulance Service? How much does it now cost per homeowner for what we currently have? And Now the $ 64,000 question. How much is it going to cost us should this go into effect and how much will it cost the homeowners in 5 years compared to keeping what us in effect now? Remember always follow the money!

  6. Flatsflyer says:

    I’d like to know why the Fire Trucks are used each and every day for grocery shopping at Publix. I’ll bet these $800,000. rigs have more miles logged going to and from Publix than they do going to emergency calls?

  7. Will says:

    Does anyone know what steps would have to be taken to create Palm Coast-Flagler?

  8. Pat says:

    I don’t know why a fire truck goes to calls that aren’t fire calls. Seems to me it would me more cost effective for a few emergency transportation vehicles to be placed around the city to go on calls to assist while the ambulance is in route. Then again, this would be a common sense approach and the city and county knows how to spend more of our tax dollars doing it the expensive flamboyant way. There is no need for a meeting of the incompetent boards now or after November elections. We can only pray that the current board members are replaced with some people who have common sense and serve us who elect them.

  9. EJ says:

    Flatsflyer: You ask why fire trucks go to Publix each and every day. One would assume that with your question/comment, you also go to Publix each and every day. You see, its very simple. They work 24 hour shifts. Firefighter shifts start anywhere from 7am-8am and then they don’t leave until the following morning. Away from their wives/husbands/kids for very long periods at a time. They miss out on many holidays with their families and miss numerous of their kids school events/sport events. You get what I’m saying? But back to your question in regards to why do the fire trucks go shopping at Publix. Like I said, they are their for 24 hours. When you wake up in the morning at 6:00am, do you know what you are eating for lunch and dinner. I am going to guess, probably not. I am from a firefighter family, so if you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.

  10. Firefighter says:

    Flats. Have you ever worked a 24 hour shift? Do you get a lunch break at your job? We don’t! We have to eat during our shift so we have the energy to pull you and your family out of their house when it’s on fire! Or we can go to the store on a break. Then when you call 911 we will drive back to the station and get the truck. It will only take an extra 5-10 minutes. Since fire doubles every minute I’m sure ten more minutes won’t make a difference right? Really?? Is it so bad they are getting food to eat.

    To everyone else: next time your local firefighters are at publix. Go up to them and say thank you. That makes us feel great. It’s what we look forward to. Small gesture for stressful work.

  11. Pat says:

    Firefighter’s don’t sacrifice near what soldiers do and our soldiers don’t get the perks and freely go home or shop using military vehicles. We too know that there are many times when firefighter’s have a light work load even though they are away from their families. They have amenities at the station and can pack a lunch and bring their food to work. We should not be paying fire fighter’s to shop! They don’t go to Publix when there is an emergency, so they can maintain the same practice at all other times! Firefighters are paid more than many other occupations… in for delivery!

  12. confidential says:

    How come I don’t see the firetrucks in Publix everyday as mentioned above..? Exaggeration to chastise our firefighters I find it distasteful. To the contrary we should be appreciative of their sacrifice service they give us as they have to deal day in and day out with extreme situations of life and death and more often that you all think, mimed bodies being extricated from wrecks or fires, specially when the victims are children.
    So lest give our firefighters a break if they need to go pick up a lunch couple of blocks down the street… hey they may come in handy if we are shopping elderlies and our hearts decide to give up at Publix.

  13. tom says:

    The firemen seem to think it is their right to run erands in their trucks, and the fire chief supports that. If they need to go out to buy lunch, fine but drive their own cars.

  14. Pat says:

    It is a job of choice. Firefighters are not drafted and they are paid with our tax dollars meaning they should not benefit privately for anything! They are paid wages far more than most others who work at Walmart, McDonalds, Publix, Winn Dixie, the county and school board. Teachers too make sacrifices and have the most precious cargo in their care on a daily basis…..what perks to they get? Bottom line is no one being paid with tax dollars should be using their position for personal gain. Do the job you chose, at the rate of pay you accepted by taking the job (and any raises that may have come your way), and don’t use your position for your personal gain at the tax payers expense! it would be horrible if firefighters were away from the station and a call came in and it was closer for them to get to the call from the station than from Publix. Not all stations are located near a Publix so not all firefighters would have the same privileges. Poor leadership has allowed this, and there is no excuse for it when they can bring their own food like I do for lunch, order it in, or prepare it there on site. It is costly and could prevent immediate medical care to drive a large fire truck around for a select few to shop.

  15. Mike says:

    All I can say is, what is wrong with you all?

  16. nun-ya says:

    Yeah being a firefighter, paramedic, soldier, Wal-Mart employee, McDonald’s cook…they are all a CHOICE. And thank god for the people who CHOOSE those jobs. Everyone needs to eat, if everyone is so worried about them being at publix to get food, try cooking a meal or buying a meal and take it to your nearest fire station for your local firefighters to eat. People act like they drive MILES and MILES to get to a damn grocery store, any corner you turn in this county you’ve got a grocery store right there. Most times, they aren’t going out of their way to get food, when they are going back to their station after running a call and pass a store they stop. And MOST of our paramedics and firefighters that work for the county don’t make nearly enough, it’s public record. I know dispatchers that work for the sheriff office that make more than some of our county fire rescue employees. Sure, let’s just hire a private ambulance company to run medic calls instead, then you will complain because your ride to the emergency room costs double what it does now. Sure our city/county fire rescue program could run better and more cost effectively but to take it out on the ones that risk their lives and give up spending time with their families for the people in this county…is just rude. Drive their own cars? So that when you call 911 they have to drive their own cars back to their station to get their emergency vehicle, sure if you want your house to burn down or your loved one to not make it. Smart people in this county…everyone’s got something to complain about until THEY NEED HELP!

  17. confidential says:

    Lets stop attacking our tax payers paid service countrymen and women workers and stop barking at the wrong tree. As far is my concern they do their jobs, only our elected ones and their administrators of choice are the one’s who don’t do their jobs!
    Pat here and others wasting valuable time with negative critique of our firemen when if you will use the same harsh words to the ones at the helm really would save us lots of currently wasted hard earned taxes.

  18. Bridgetender69 says:

    Worrying about ambulances when the city of Palm Coast does not have their own Police Department, they lean heavy on the county for those guys.

  19. Pat says:

    Nun ya—Read my lips…bring your lunch, order it in, or cook it at the station–don’t expect special privilege because of the job you do. The job you do was the job of your choice and you knew of the long hours, being away from your family before you took the job. Now to be fair, you may be away from your family for extended hours but what about the extended time you do get to be with your family when you are off. Thats right, you dont talk about the benefits. We never see an ambulance at Publix…the administration is to blame because the permission for the misuse of tax payers vehicles comes from the top. Doctors and other professions deal with the same type of situation, and you can too. Time to be weined. Your place is to be at the station unless you are at a call. When you’re done with a call your place is to return to the station to prepare for the next call.

  20. YankeeExPat says:

    I think it is High time for the Firefighters who are shopping in Publix to admit that they are the ones taking all the Ripe Tomatoes and Cantaloupes off the shelves before the locals can get a crack at squeezing them. Last week there were no ripe bananas on the same day there was a Fire Truck in the lot. Coincidence or Conspiracy? These much maligned Firefighters are committing Unabashed Produce Privilege. Taking our entitled Taxpayer Potatoes and Pineapples for personal gain. Oh the Humanity!

  21. Firefighter says:

    We are also required to do preplans. So Pat we can’t be at our “place” all the time. Umm also all the doctors I know get lunch breaks. That is why there are hospital restaurants. I wonder what profession you have?I would love to offer a ride along for 24 hour shift to any and all of you. Oh by the way make sure you schedule your meals three days before it.

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