McCarty resigns as EMS director
County EMS director Brandy McCarty resigned Monday, following a 35-minute executive session with commissioners that included attorney Susan Robson, medical director Don Hodson, and EMS advisory board chairman Gene Winkler.
“She felt that if we’re going to go forward that it’s time for new leadership and we need to take a different approach to how we’re going to do it,” Chairman Dan Holub said in accepting McCarty’s resignation.
McCarty will step down in two weeks, but will continue half time to preserve continuity, Holub said.
Holub criticized a “very, very few” EMS people for being uncooperative and divisive during McCarty’s yearlong tenure.
“I feel a lot of the problem is EMS has not been the cohesive unit it was several years ago, or even recently,” Holub said. “There has been active resistance to her being the director, and some people just flat refused to get along. This is the price we pay.
“I’m not saying all the volunteers aren’t cooperating. It’s a very, very few, but they have made everybody else’s life very hard.”
Holub said he was concerned how such attitudes could affect a new director.
“I feel no matter who we hire, we could hire Ben Carson and somebody will probably take exception to it,” he said. “Until we make up our minds to go forward as a county and a county EMS unit, I don’t have much hope of one person being able to make a difference.”
Hillsoboro mayor Delores Dalke attended the meeting out of concern expressed by constituents over the status of EMS.
“I’ve got people calling me giving me the number of the state investigator, his name, all of the administrators,” Dalke said. “I was concerned about the state and its investigations. I know we’ve got some people in Hillsboro that will be put on 90-day leave, but we’ve got that covered. I just need to have a clear feeling for what’s going on.”
Commissioners will move quickly to bring clarity to the director’s position through a special meeting with the EMS advisory board later in the week. Clerk Tina Spencer was instructed to make arrangements for such.
“Are we going to want somebody with previous experience or someone in the learning mode?” Holub said. “And we’re going to have to look at the wage level; you know what we ran across last time. They were pretty proud of those abilities, and they were getting it.”
Even with a new director, Commissioner Randy Dallke said it would take a countywide effort to move forward.
“Commissioners are charged with providing ambulance service,” Dallke said, “but I don’t know what that means yet. There’s a whole lot of work ahead of us to improve our situation.”
Dallke said a decline in the number of EMS volunteers has strained the system.
“I don’t know the numbers in each town that’s trying to keep a 24-hour service going, but it’s very stressful for those few people to do a 24-hour service on volunteerism today,” he said. “The big ol’ cloud that’s above us is full-time service hanging out there.”
Randy Eitzen of Peabody appeared during the public comment period to take commissioners to task for firing Peabody paramedic Larry Larsen.
“I really think you guys should be ashamed of yourselves for firing Larry Larsen a couple of weeks ago,” Eitzen said. “I just think he’s helped out an awful lot of people and I don’t think we can replace him.”
Eitzen also was critical of supporters of Larsen who have failed to make their concerns known.
“I truly am ashamed of the people; I don’t see anyone else here,” he said. “But I’m saying we need to rethink that deal.”
Holub did not give any sign commissioners would reconsider their decision.
“It wasn’t a light decision,” he said. “It was one of the tougher moments I’ve had in 11 years, believe me.”
“I’m sure that’s right,” he said. “I understand people don’t do things right all the time, and sometimes you have to slap their hands and stuff. I just think this is one instance where you should rethink this.”