The best way to provide the citizens of Daleville with full time emergency rescue service was discussed at a second work session on the issue Aug. 16.
“We’ve been fortunate in Daleville over the years to have good (emergency rescue) volunteers, dedicated people who do a good job,” said Daleville City Councilman Allen Souders. “I didn’t realize until recently that we were in a position where we needed to go (full time) paid. I know there have been struggles back and forth over the years but I just wanted to say that our folks are good and have always responded to calls.”
Daleville Mayor Jayme Stayton agreed, adding that “minutes make a difference in someone living or dying” as a primary reason for striving to obtain emergency rescue service for the city seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
“The city of Daleville is growing and it is time for the city to have a full time rescue squad,” Stayton said at the work session Aug. 1. “We need a faster emergency response available for our citizens.”
Two possible options the city could consider were to outsource emergency rescue operations to a private company specializing in such. A second option was for the city of Daleville to incorporate the rescue service into a city department and employrescue staff as city employees.
At the Aug. 1 work session Daleville City Councilman Jimmy Monk, who is on the Daleville Rescue Board, and Daleville Department of Public Safety Assistant Chief David Grubbs, who supervises the emergency rescue volunteers, asked the council to consider hiring rescue staff as city employees with city benefits to include state retirement.
The two presented a preliminary plan of what making the squad a city department would cost the city and were asked by the mayor to come back to the council with a more detailed cost analysis.
At the Aug. 1 meeting Daleville City Attorney Henry Steagall said that he had been researching the issue of a potential agreement with Enterprise Rescue Inc.
Steagall said that the Daleville Rescue Squad has had some difficulty responding to calls in the last few months. “That is what has triggered these discussions,” he said. “As you are seeing, not just in Daleville but everywhere, you just don’t have the number of volunteers you used to.”
Enterprise Rescue is an employee owned, non-profit service operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It is a private company and not run by the city of Enterprise. The company provides Advanced Life Support for the cities of Level Plains, New Brockton, Elba and Enterprise and the surrounding communities.
At the work session Aug. 16, Enterprise Rescue Squad Capt. Anthony Cole outlined the services that his service with 85 employees, 10 ambulances and two first responder vehicles provides.
Cole said that the Enterprise Rescue Squad originated as an all volunteer squad but in 1991 became an employee owned full time paid rescue squad. He said that he had been with Enterprise Rescue for 50 years and 27 years of that time was as a volunteer. “So I understand the importance of what volunteers can do,” he said. “But there comes a point where you have to have somebody full time because you want to have emergency medical care for your people as fast as you can.”
Cole said that Enterprise Rescue has stations in Enterprise and in Elba. He said he could put one in Daleville providing 24 hours a day coverage, seven days a week.
Cole said that he would be interested in hiring current Daleville Rescue Squad volunteers. “Do you have 30 more?” he asked, noting that rescue personnel have been stretched thin during the COVID-19 pandemic. “In July we made 993 calls. In July the year before, it was around 450 calls,” he said.
“We have full- and part-time crews,” Cole added. “We carry health insurance and have a 401K through Edward Jones available for our employees that we contribute a percentage to for our employees.”
Cole said that the company provides reimbursement to employees for advanced training and double pay on holidays. “Fifteen of the Enterprise Rescue Squad paramedics are in critical care school right now,” he told the council.
Stayton said that the city’s “actual out-of-pocket expense” to contract with Enterprise Rescue would be $28,000 a year.
“We do mutual aid for you now and will continue to do so regardless of what you choose to do,” Cole said. “If you call us we will be here no matter what you decide to do because that’s the right thing to do. We’re here to provide support because that is what we are supposed to do.”
At the Daleville City Council meeting Aug. 17, the council decided to postpone any decision on an emergency medical service pending further research. A third work session on the issue is set for Monday, Sept. 20 at 5 p.m.
The next meeting of the Daleville City Council is Tuesday, Sept. 7, at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers at Daleville City Hall. All city council meetings and work sessions are open to the public.