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Mayor Riley clarifies Valley EMS issue

VALLEY — Valley Mayor Leonard Riley on Monday sought to clarify what’s been going on recently with Valley EMS. He said that some misinformation has been circulating recently and he wanted to set the record straight.

“Over the past few days, the City of Valley has received several calls from the local news media concerning EMS and city coverage,” the mayor said. “When the decision was made to merge Valley EMS with East Alabama Fire, the city felt that employees should be notified. That was to give our EMS personnel time to make personal decisions.”

Riley said city officials were prepared in case some of the employees decided to leave or might be critical of the decision, possibly to the extent of retaliation.

“With this in mind, we asked our neighbor, Lanett EMS, if they would assist if needed,” Riley continued. “We are very grateful that Mayor Kyle McCoy, the council, Fire & EMS Chief Johnny Allen and the Lanett EMS medics agreed to assist us on days we were understaffed to serve the city.”

When Valley EMS employees were notified of the transfer of service, two full-time employees chose to leave immediately and EMS Director Scott Hamil went on medical leave. This left Valley EMS only four full-time and a few part-time employees to cover the city 24/7.

“I want the public to know that our longest-serving medics, Greg Gregory, Hal Sellers and Glenn Johnson will remain with Valley EMS until the merger is complete on October 1. We are thankful for their long years of service to the citizens of Valley,” Riley said.

Riley said that for the past six years, city officials have been working very hard to return jobs to the city and to Chambers County.

“Since John Soules Foods, WestRock and Four Star Freightliner have announced that they are coming to Valley, East Alabama Water has needed to make changes to accommodate for growth,” Riley said. “East Alabama has been in this area since 1973, and the city was formed in 1980. East Alabama Fire has been a part of the EMS team since its conception. They are trained in fire, extrication and water rescue. After the merger, East Alabama Fire Department personnel will assume the role of Valley EMS. Most cities in Alabama have a combined Fire and EMS service. Many of the present East Alabama Water employees live in the city.”

Riley added that the city has an EMS budget of around $750,000 a year with a budget of around $380,000.

“The taxpayers pay around $370,000 a year for the service,” Riley said. “It’s true that EMS is a public service like police, recreation and public works. The merger, however, is based not so much on money as it is common sense. We can merge our services, save taxpayer dollars and continue to provide, good quality emergency care. We are currently covered with to medics on most 24-hour shifts with no additional help unless we call Lanett EMS or East Alabama Fire. The merger will allow for more personnel inside the city limits and a decreased need to ask Lanett EMS for emergency aid.”

Riley said the decision to merge had not been an easy one for the council to take on.

“We did not make this decision without a great amount of thought and consideration for those it affects,” Riley said. “However, as elected officials, we must make decisions that benefit the community as a whole.”

Anyone with questions may call the mayor’s office at city hall at (334) 756-5225.