EMS says efforts made to address volunteer complaints

Published 6:34pm Tuesday, January 29, 2013

“Some of the rescue squad members [while he was commissioner] were upset with Sandra Halford and they came to me complaining about it. I told them they needed to take their complaints to the county manager,” Denton said.

Volunteers said concerns they raised then and now regarding problems within EMS were ignored.

Nicholas Edwards, who works full-time with Saluda Fire and Rescue and volunteers with several other departments said he voiced complaints about how things were being run on multiple occasions to both Halford and county manger Ryan Whitson.

“Another thing that bugs me is how political it has gotten,” Edwards said. “When you are dealing with someone’s life you can’t let politics get in the way.”

Edwards said he felt Whitson disregarded complaints because Whitson was friends with Halford. Whitson is currently away on deployment but commented via phone.

Whitson said no complaint was ignored. Whitson said he feels volunteers might say so because it is easier to be critical of someone 650 miles away.

“I have a great deal of respect for volunteers in service to our county and country,” Whitson said. “One of my last acts as manager was to request funding for two EMTs so volunteers would not have to drive ambulances for the county on the weekends.”

Halford also said claims that complaints were ignored were untrue.

She however would not comment as to whether she thought a new medical director would solve volunteers’ concerns.

Gage said a better solution has to be found to repair issues within the emergency medical system.

“It’s got to be everybody working to get that done,” Gage said. “I sure hope we can figure it out because I couldn’t imagine what it would cost us if we didn’t have those volunteers in the county.”

What Halford said she could speak to was the dedication of everyone in the system – volunteers and paid staff – to keeping the county safe.

“This is one of the best EMS systems there is and the reason its one of the best is because the people care,” Halford said. “We have had patients call and thank us because we’re not afraid to hold your hand. To us, you’re not just a patient, you’re somebody’s mother, you’re somebody’s brother.”

Halford said the quality of care given in the county matters greatly to her because she and her family live here too.

“I want to know the service provided here is the best care there is,” she said.

Editor’s note: Messages in recent weeks have also been left with Sunny View Fire and Rescue, Mill Spring Fire Department, Saluda Fire Department and Tryon Fire Department to seek further volunteer comments, but those calls have not been returned. 

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