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Valley EMS joins Water, Sewer and Fire Protection

VALLEY — The Valley City Council has authorized Mayor Leonard Riley to execute a contact with the East Alabama Water, Sewer and Fire Protection District. A resolution to do this was approved in a unanimous vote following an executive session Monday.

“We are doing this for financial reasons,” Riley said, explaining that the city had lost somewhere between $310,000 and $358,000 in each of the last three years while running Valley EMS. A $500,000 loss is projected for the current year. Valley is one of very few cities in Alabama that has an EMS department that’s independent from a fire department. Many municipal officials believe that an EMS service can be more cost effective when it operates within a fire department. Lanett and West Point, for example, have both being doing that for some time,

The issue being considered is that Valley EMS would be operated by the East Alabama Water, Sewer and Fire Protection District. They could be based at the main station on Fob James Drive or at the new station in Fairfax. A major advantage of this is that an ambulance and crews could be at both stations, making citizens closer to emergency help should they ever need it.

According to the proposed contract, the city would subsidize EMS service for the next five years. East Alabama would receive $275,000 in years one, two and three and $300,000 in years four and five.

Mayor Riley said he had talked with officials from East Alabama, EAMC-Lanier Hospital and the City of Lanett about this issue.

Three EMTs from Valley EMS were present at the Monday council meeting and expressed concerns that they were going to lose their jobs in the transition. After the meeting, the mayor told The Valley Times-News that two members of the staff had been in the system for more than 25 years and were eligible for retirement.

Four others, he said, could go to East Alabama if they can pass their physicals. Those who wish to do so must pass the Candidate Physical Ability Test (CPAT) by Sept. 1, 2018. They then must become a certified fire fighter by Oct. 1, 2019. Those who fail the CPAT test will be eligible for unemployment compensation from the city.

East Alabama will have sole discretion for the employee’s hourly rates and benefits.

The contract between the city and East Alabama is for five years. It’s renewable after that time should both parties be in agreement. There’s also a severability clause that holds the contract invalid and unenforceable if any of its provisions are.

Many Alabama cities have found that they can save costs when the combine fire and EMS service into one department. Fire medics, for example, can serve as both firefighters and EMTs.