Athens County Emergency Medical Director Resigns
County Commissioner Larry Payne said the resignation was due to a combination of issues, but cited the recent work-related issues as a dominant factor.
The resignation is a new development in a recent issue concerning potential out-of-date Athens County Emergency Medical Services (ACEMS) equipment and improper infrastructure of local stations. James Irwin, an ACEMS paramedic, wrote to local media expressing concerns about the conditions.
“First and foremost, the county EMS equipment, vehicles and buildings are in various stages of despair, some even unsafe,” Irwin said. “We are serving the public with ambulances that may or may not start, sirens that may or may not work, broken mirrors, some difficult to steer and constantly breaking down.”
Irwin also mentioned the county is not meeting training or medical protocol.
Athens County Commissioners held a meeting Monday morning to address those issues. Payne said he understood Irwin’s predicament but did not agree with Irwin’s course of action.
“Proper procedure is to go to the station chief and then director. If they do not respond, go to the county commissioners,” said Payne. “I think he had good intentions but some of the language scared people. The statements were overblown.”
The Athens Messenger reports that the county commissioners had a lengthy closed-door meeting after speaking with Irwin Monday morning. The commissioners asked Lenigar to write a letter addressing the EMS maintenance issues. Lenigar resigned before these suggestions were carried out.
Last week, Lenigar sent the commissioners a list of station maintenance needs, which were submitted to him more than a month ago. The Athens Messenger cited some items on the maintenance list including electrical checks, repair and replacement of lights, repair or removal of awnings, plumbing checks, HVAC maintenance and landscaping.
Commissioner Payne visited two stations in the last 24 hours to check overall conditions.
“There are minor things that need to be adjusted but overall I think things are in good conditions,” Payne said. “The Athens station was founded in 1977 and the county commissioners want to move it but that depends on location and, of course, money.”
The county is currently on a replacement schedule but Lenigar pushed off recent replacements in anticipation of a government grant. The replacement system was implemented in 2011 and Payne believes it does a good job of keeping equipment and vehicles in proper condition.
The special meeting to appoint a new interim EMS director and discuss further issues is scheduled for Thursday, April 12 at 1 p.m.