Stanford EMS wants new home

September 15, 2003|EMILY BURTON

STANFORD - Members of Stanford EMS and Rescue Inc. asked board members for a new home last week after a state inspector found exposed live wires and took samples of mold found in the current building. The present home of Stanford EMS, the only 24-hour emergency service company in Lincoln County, was flooded in 1996 and sustained fire damage in July after a water heater ignited.

EMS and Rescue employees have turned to the public for help in getting a new home after years of what they say have been frustrating and fruitless talks with the EMS board of directors.

"This building is dilapidated. The building has been through a flood in 1996 and a fire. The board has undermined any attempts to repair it," said Stanford EMS Director Keith Dean. "The reason we're speaking out now is we've gone as far as we can through the proper channels. I feel like our cries for help from the board have not been heard."


Dean submitted a director's report to the board at its monthly meeting Friday, which included a letter dated Aug. 27 that notified board members of Dean's concern for the safety of his fellow employees should they remain housed in the building. The 30-plus safety concerns listed included the presence of mold inside walls from the flood, lack of emergency lighting, exposed live wires and damaged walls.

"I have a legal and moral obligation to report these violations to you," wrote Dean." I am giving you the opportunity to correct these problems in a reasonable amount of time, or I will have the legal obligation to report these hazards to (the state)."

Health inspector Neesia Johnson of the Kentucky Labor Department inspected the building last week, per an employee's request, and noted the live wires and took samples of mold. Two hours after the request was called in, a board member also called the Kentucky Occupational Safety and Health office, requesting a courtesy inspection. During the courtesy inspection, an inspector will identify health and safety code infractions but will not cite the owners for those violations.

According to Rosemary Hughes, Stanford EMS director of administrative services, the courtesy inspection could not take place before the actual inspection, since it was not requested first.

As of Friday morning, a Do Not Enter sign was posted on a sleeping area door, but employees could not say why. It was taken down hours before the board meeting. Also posted was a note stating that all live wires had been removed.

According to Hughes, an employee satisfied with the safety of the building, there was only one live wire and it did not concern the inspector.

"She was here for five hours and found one live wire," said Hughes. "She said the live wires were not a concern to anyone because they were over seven feet (from the ground). The only thing we could get would be a housekeeping violation, because they didn't clean back there," said Hughes.

On the ceiling of Hughes' office, a Hoover vacuum box has been taped over a hole created during the fire.

Board Chairman Carl Harmon said that, before the inspection, he had heard of only one employee feeling unsafe in the building.

"From the time I was here on July 7, ( the day of the fire) I haven't received a phone call saying anyone felt they were in danger," said Harmon. "I talked to the employees the night of the fire and everybody said they felt safe, didn't want to leave."

"I know I have specifically said there are problems in this building that need to be addressed," said Dean.

Harmon added that the board should wait to make the improvements requested on Dean's list until the state contacts the board with its report.

"I don't think we need to worry about this list at this time. First we need to do what Frankfort says," said Harmon.

Lack of space is a major concern

One major concern is lack of space. Employees currently are using an ambulance bay as living quarters. Partitions were erected to create a small rec room, an office and two sleeping areas. Most of the furniture and appliances were bought or donated by the employees, who also have the option of sleeping in a room at Fort Logan Hospital, provided specifically for their use.

Assistant Director Tracy Kilby said she now sleeps in the ambulances on her 24-hour shifts, refusing to sleep in the bay room after discovering a rodent infestation one night.

"I woke up with a mouse in my hair, and you know what their (the board's) response was? They laughed," said Kilby.

The three remaining bays are not enough to house the five vehicles used by the squads. Additionally, a concern is the narrow width of the bay doors. There is only an inch of clearance for the ambulances, which have damaged the wooden door jams with their mirrors.

The building has inadequate parking facilities and walls that let the snow blow through in the winter. Dean said he and the employees have made multiple requests to the board for a new building but knew money had been tight.

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