Billings complains about emergency responders
by Paisley Boston
Mar 05, 2014 | 2451 views | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bolivar County emergency management services are allegedly not rapidly responding to calls.

In Monday's Bolivar County Board of Supervisors meeting, Supervisor Preston Billings said he continues to receive phone calls and complaints about the length of time that it takes for emergency personnel to respond to emergency situations.

"When there is an emergency, it is taking entirely too long for emergency officials to respond. Something needs to be done about this immediately," said Billings.

According to Billings, Shelby is rallying county officials to organize a way to respond to fires and other emergencies.

"Shelby is barely half of a block outside of city limits. Instead of county fire trucks and emergency personnel coming all the way from the county, I think that it would be better for the city to respond," he added.

Billings said he believes that (Pafford) Emergency Medical Services do not respond promptly to emergencies in smaller municipalities.

"I have spoken with individuals about this matter in a previous board meeting. My constituents need more assistance. I have been bringing this issue before the board for some time now. There is suppose to be an agreement with the county and municipalities in place that the first responders adhere to," continued Billings.

"In the past, first responders have been geared up to respond to emergencies but they were placed on hold. My constituents are very concerned with how long it takes for emergency personnel to respond to fires," he added.

He sought resolve for this issue from Emergency Management Director Bill Quinton but his only response was, "I just deal with the finances. I don’t even know how to start a fire truck."

Shelby Mayor Dan Harris said this issue has been going on for almost 30 years.

"There is an immediate solution to the problem and that is to have a better line of communication. Most emergency service vehicles have a radio system. Instead of individuals relying heavily on an emergency to appear across a computer screen, they should just simply pick up the radio," he said.

"The radio system was our primary means of communication and any time there was an emergency, we would have a patrol car to lead ambulances and fire trucks to wherever the emergency was," added Harris.

"This issue is not just concerning the fire department, we have problems with the emergency management services overall," he continued.

According to Billings, there have been times when there has been a fire in Shelby or Mound Bayou but first responders had to retrieve a fire truck from Duncan or wait for a fleet to come from Cleveland.

"The county is suppose to sign a mutual aid agreement each year with municipalities but I don’t think they are doing that. I think that it is some information that is being misled or not told about to the dispatcher," said Billings.

When individuals are in need of emergency services, they should not have to concern themselves with whether or not their need will be met.

"Most of a person's valuable possessions are located in their homes and when a person loses everything, it can be difficult to regain it all back," said Harris.

"We recently had a fire that was about five miles from Shelby – the family lost everything but this could have been avoided if emergency personnel in a nearby unit could have responded promptly. My unit was the closest unit but we did not receive an order to respond soon enough," he added.

"If you are not called then you are not allowed to respond," continued Harris.

Harris said he would like for city and county officials to build a better relationship that enables a healthy line of communication.

"The mutual aid agreement is fine but we have to have good cooperation with emergency responders. Fifteen minutes is a long time for a person to wait if they are facing a raging fire or heart attack," said Harris.

"For example, there was a young lady from Shelby that I think had an asthma attack. To my understanding, emergency management services took too long to get to the scene," he added.

"It all boils down to officials getting together and try to figure out the best solution for serving the citizens. I don’t have all of the answers but I think that this would help," continued Harris.