Lifeguard Ambulance staffing issues came before the Brown County Commissioners Court Monday morning.
Brown County Judge Paul Lilly said he receives a report each morning on Lifeguard staffing, and reports show Lifeguard did not meet minimum staffing required by its contract with the county five times in May and 10 times in June.
The contract calls for the ambulance company to have four Mobile Intensive Care Unit ambulances — each with two paramedics — daily, Lilly told commissioners.
Lilly asked Lifeguard Ambulance chief Chris Furry to take a seat at the table faces the commissioners and said, “I want to voice a public concern because of the number of complaints coming in now, have gotten so loud and so often, that I can’t ignore it any more. I can’t says ‘just go see the ambulance committee.’
“I just need it on the record that we appear to have a problem with staffing, and I know there’s always a reason. I’ve been in your shoes. As a police chief, we always had minimum staffing on the street.”
Lilly said he wanted to defend Furry, saying “I’m not assigning blame to you at all. As a matter of fact, I want to stand up and applaud the job that you do, and I want that on the record for everybody to hear and see. You do a fantastic job with what you’re given.
“I’m not trying to make a mountain out of a molehill in any way. I just have to have it on the record so that everybody can see we’re aware of it.”
Lilly said he would be attending a meeting of the ambulance oversight committee later in the week.
“I’ve got a lot of people watching on camera, and when the complaints pass 10, I’ve got to do something,” Lilly said.
Brown County Attorney Shane Britton, noting that Furry had been “publicly called out,” asked Furry if he wanted to respond.
“I really don’t have a whole lot to say,” Furry replied. “This is a nationwide problem.” He said the company is “trying to think of options outside the box” to address the staffing.
Commissioner Gary Worley said, “I’d like to ask other commissioners if they’ve had any complaints. I know I haven’t heard any complaints at all since Lifeguard’s taken over, and I don’t know where Judge Lilly is getting all these complaints and we’re not getting any.”
Lilly replied, “there’s probably a reason for that, given that I’m the head of the county government. That’s probably why they come to me.”
Commissioner Larry Traweek said he heard ambulance complaint “on a daily basis” before Lifeguard took over the contract in December 2015.
“I was, too,” and I haven’t received one since (Lifeguard) started, Worley said.
Worley asked Lilly, “do you have a list of these complaints?”
“I do,” Lilly replied.
“I’d like to see them,” Worley said.
Lilly said he’d asked the people who made the complaints “if they want it to be made public or not. They have a right not to.”
Lilly said the latest complaint occurred Friday, when a man said an ambulance transporting his wife broke down and it was necessary to wait on another ambulance. Furry said he drove a back-up ambulance and “swapped it out.”
Lilly said later he has received one written complaint and nine verbal complaints.