A couple years ago, the discussion came up about EMS non-transport calls- those where the individuals call the ambulance but decide they don’t want to go to the hospital--, said Richmond County Supervisor Robert Pemberton, and he suggested it’s time for the county to revisit that issue.

When multiple non-transport calls have come from the same house, I think we ought to look at giving that person a three-call limit over a six-month period and then maybe graduating to $100 on the fourth call, $150 on the forth, and so on, said Pemberton. Because sometimes I think our EMS gets called out just to conduct doctors’ calls, and I think of Covid, it’s getting worse.

EMS chief Mitch Paulette said the department sees two types of scenarios in that regard. Some people call for help and they actually need to go to the hospital but they’re scared. But “some are using us as their personal physicians,” he added.

Pemberton proposed putting it on the board of supervisors agenda for further consideration.

Board chairman Lee Sanders inquired whether Essex has a limit on non-transport calls.

That county does charge for legitimate refusals, which are those where a person calls out and that individual decides not go to the hospital, Paulette explained. However, if there is an incident where a bystander calls the ambulance for an incident and the person who seemed to need help doesn’t go to the hospital, there’s no charge.

Pemberton clarified that he is talking about “nuisance” calls where an individual has called multiple times in a couple months but never gone to the hospital.

“We have quite a few of those as well,” Paulette said.

Sanders asked that the EMS chief review other counties, bring the board the amounts they’re charging and their policies so Richmond County has somewhere to start.

In the past, one of the discouraging factors in implementing this type of policy was the difficulty to collect the fee from insurance companies. It would almost have to be like a county bill, Paulette explained, but he said he’ll bring the requested information to the board in November.

Warsaw PD turnover

Last week, Warsaw Police Department lost one of its officers who decided to take a job in Westmoreland County, which is paying more money. The town has lost three officers over the past two years, and they’re all employed elsewhere around the Northern Neck.

Chief Joan Kent plans to tackle the turnover. The next person she hires will have to sign a three-year contract, she informed Warsaw Town Council.

Warsaw currently requires that anyone the town sends through the academy must give back a certain number of hours as an auxillary officer. Currently, there’s one person under that type of contract. Depending on the flow of applications, he may become the department’s next officer, said Kent. If so, he too will be required to sign a three-year employment contract.

It’s common sense to require contracts because you invest money in things like an officer’s ballistics vest and uniforms then they don’t stay, said Kent. Furthermore, turnover creates other issues for the department, including the time that’s invested to bring onboard new officers and the strain on existing staff while positions are vacant.

Although there’s a labor shortage across the employment spectrum that’s giving workers more ability to choose jobs on more appealing terms, that’s discouraging Kent from moving forward with the contract requirement. She’s leaning o, the record, and notes employment contracts have been successful in her department in the past.