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February 28, 2008 Issue

County extends EMS contract
Avoid a ticket, save a life and move on over
Area elderly targeted in possible scam, officials warn

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County extends EMS contract

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Jefferson County solicited bids for the county’s emergency medical services, as the current contract with Rural Metro expires in May.

Of the five companies who picked up bid packets, only one, Gold Cross, returned a bid, according to Jefferson County Commission Chairman William Rabun.

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“The Gold Cross bid was about $89,000 a year increase over current costs,” Rabun said. “We felt that was too high; so the commission rejected that bid.”

Gold Cross’ bid was $41,583.33 per month, that’s for two 24-hour ambulances and a day truck, according to Jefferson County Administrator Paul Bryan. “That was a three-year bid,” he said.

Bryan said currently the county is paying $34,196 per month. “Rural Metro agreed to continue the contract with the first year being the same as we’re paying now and the second year being $35,221 a month.”

Bryan said that provides the county with two 24-hour ambulances and a day truck.

“We accepted Rural Metro’s request for a two-year extension over their current contract,” Rabun said. “What that calls for is the current year to be extended as it is for one year. Then it goes up $1,000 a month. The contract is based on a fiscal year that ends in May.”

The current annual cost is about $410,000. The request for bids included a passage allowing the county to reject any and all bids, which it did when the only bid received was considered too high, according to Bryan.

In addition, the day truck, with a two-man crew, will be located in the Bartow City Hall beginning Monday, March 3, according to Susan Scarboro, the city’s manager. The ambulance will operate from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, she said.

“I’m real happy about having an ambulance on the south end of the county,” said Bartow Mayor John Mancin. “We really need it. I think that the fact that we will have the ambulance service on the southern end of the county will be very advantageous to anyone who needs it because it’s usually about a 20 to 30 minute wait for an ambulance to come from Louisville. In this case, it will take only a few minutes for the ambulance to get to where it’s needed, once the ambulance is dispatched.”

Clay Neal, the city’s police chief, is also happy about the change.

“I think it’s a good thing for the citizens of Bartow and for anybody in the southern end of the county. We will have a quicker response time for those who have emergencies,” he said.

Bryan said one of the two 24-hour ambulances will be in Wrens and the other in Louisville.



Avoid a ticket, save a life and move on over

By Carol McLeod
Staff Writer

Although the Georgia Move Over Law has been in effect since 2003, law enforcement officials say few motorists are familiar with it. Violating the law can result in a fine as high as $500. Currently, the Georgia State Senate is considering Senate Bill 354. If passed, this bill would make any vehicular homicide that results from a violation of the Move Over Law a felony instead of a misdemeanor, according to Jim Shuler of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.

“The preliminary figures from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund show a sharp rise in law enforcement fatalities in 2007,” Shuler said. “An officer is being killed on average every day in America. It’s due in part to a record number of fatal traffic incidents that lead overall to one of the deadliest years for law enforcement officers in more than a decade.”

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Shuler said that, nationwide, 81 officers were killed in those traffic-related incidents, which is the highest figure ever recorded for this category. Across the country, 60 officers died in car crashes, six died in motorcycle crashes and 15 were hit by cars in 2007, he said.

Although no such fatalities have been recorded in Jefferson or Glascock counties in recent years, the increase of officers dying at traffic stops across the country is a concern, Shuler said.

The Move Over Law requires motorists approaching a stopped towing, public safety or emergency vehicle to slow down and pull over one lane around the vehicle.

Senior Trooper Larry Schnall of the Georgia State Patrol Public Information Office in Atlanta stresses the importance of the law.

“We certainly think it’s a good law,” he said. “It not only effects law enforcement but all other public safety personnel as well, including tow truck drivers, ambulance personnel and fire and rescue personnel.

“When we’re on the side of the road, rendering aid to someone, medical emergency or arresting someone, we certainly don’t want to become victims ourselves. We encourage the public to simply slow down when they see emergency lights in the emergency lane, use extreme caution and if at all possible, move over a lane.”

Gary Hutchins, sheriff of Jefferson County, acknowledged the need for motorists to obey the law.

“It’s a good thing,” he said of the law, adding it protects officers on the side of the road, emergency medical personnel and others.

“People have a tendency to look at what’s going on and before you know it, they’re too close,” he said. “And before you know it, an officer or EMS has stepped out. When you have plenty of clearance on a single lane road, come to a safe pace and a slow pace where you can control your automobile.”

Hutchins said slowing down protects not only the person on the road but also the motorist. He said drivers should always pay attention to what lies ahead.

“If you see an ambulance coming, or law enforcement, people need to pull over and let them pass,” he said. “Whatever you have to do.”

Wadley’s Chief of Police Paul Jordan has firsthand experience of drivers being too close to an officer in the roadway.

“I got hit one night,” he said, adding it was before he started working in Wadley. “It was some time ago. And I had to go to the ER. It’s a good tool in case someone has a bad wreck,” he said of the law.

“I’ve already given two warnings about this law and explained to the drivers about (its) importance,” he said.

Jordan said he was struck on the shoulder by a side mirror of a vehicle.

Clay Neal is not only the Chief of Police in Bartow but is a deputy with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

He said when motorists see any emergency vehicles, they should dramatically slow down.

“You see blue lights, you should,” he said. “I’ve had people come real close to hitting me. An 18-wheeler came pretty close to hitting me the other day. It came right up on me. It didn’t move over at all. The guy I had stopped actually grabbed me by the shoulder and said, ‘Watch it.’ The truck was pretty close. I don’t think it would have hit me; but, I probably could have reached out and touched it.”

Neal said people need to watch for blue lights and slow down. He also cautioned motorists not to slam on brakes, either, but consider the traffic behind them, as well.

“During the day, it’s bad; but during the night it’s really bad,” Neal said, adding he has stopped drivers for violating this law.

“I’ve stopped people for that. I haven’t ever given anybody a ticket for that, that I remember,” he said. “When you’re on a four-lane, there’s no excuse for not pulling over into the lane away from the shoulder.”

Neal, as well as other officers, acknowledged sometimes motorists may not know what to do, especially on a two-lane road with a curb or little or no shoulder with approaching traffic.

“It’s usually not that congested, especially around here,” he said. “When someone sees the blue lights, slow down. If you can’t get around because of oncoming traffic, slow down enough to let the other vehicle pass and then go around. It’s important for people to remember that there’s a human being on the side of the road with a family. Drivers need to use their best judgment.”



Area elderly targeted in possible scam, officials warn

By Faye Ellison
Staff Writer

Calls that Glascock County elderly citizens received last week are a cause of concern for local officials.

Monday, Feb. 18, and Tuesday, Feb. 19, two Glascock County residents received phone calls notifying them of a pending visit from a Medicare or Social Security representative.

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This is not the first time the elderly have been a prime target for a scam.

“We just had someone in the county, who came to see us regularly, an older couple that really needed some help,” County Nurse Manager Nona Lord said. “The caller started off telling them of a bill they needed to pay.”

Unfortunately preying on the elderly is common among scammers or those looking to cause fraudulent harm, officials said.

“The elderly are often very vulnerable and very upset,” Lord said. “They are easy pickings, easy prey.”

Often they confuse elderly citizens by asking them about a bill or telling them that they are from a state agency needing information.

“We have heard of this,” Lord said, adding, “but this is actually the first time someone has called us. Because of this we just want to let the public know that people are out there doing this.”

Lord told those calling the Health Department to please notify Glascock County Sheriff Dean Couch.

The first person who received a call from the suspected scammers was an elderly female who is married. Couch said her husband is on dialysis and has heart problems.

“They stated that they received a call on Monday, Feb. 18,” Couch said. “They said they were from Medicare and were checking in on people to see how they were doing and if they needed anything.”

The “representative” claimed they would be by later that afternoon.

“They got a little wary about it, because normally people don’t call and say they are going to come out,” Couch said.

Couch watched the residence that afternoon, but no one ever showed.

“They called back and told them that they would be out on Wednesday, Feb. 20, at 11:30 a.m., but didn’t show up,” Couch said.

The second victim was a man who said someone called claiming to be from Social Security on Tuesday, Feb. 19, and asked if he was trying to get some help.

“He said, ‘Yeah I need some help,’” Couch said. “They told him they would be out there. They did not show up either.

“I do not know if they are trying to get personal information for identity theft or trying to see what they have in the house so they can come back to rob them, but citizens need to be very aware of what they tell people over the phone. Social Security or Medicare do not call you at home. You have to call them or go see them.”

Couch added that like Lord, it was the first time he had such an incident happen while he has been in office in Glascock County. Lord contacted Medicare, but they said they were not sending anybody out.

“It was kind of a red flag, you know,” Lord said.

“As soon as they get a call, I am asking citizens to call me and I will come out and talk with them,” Couch said. “If people are supposed to come visit with them, I will watch the residence to see if they will show up.”

Couch is also asking for any resident who may have been contacted or scammed by such an incident to call the Sheriff’s Office immediately or 911.

“If they ever call, people need to make sure they call him (Couch) or call 911,” Lord said. “Thankfully we have a good sheriff like we have to protect our people.”




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