Editorial: Just fix it; reinstate EMS station at Advance FD

Published 10:09 am Tuesday, March 1, 2022

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The controversy surrounding the county’s removal of an EMS station in Advance makes you wonder.
What’s really happening here?
County Manager David Bone has already lost his job. EMS Director Brian Byrd appears to be on the bubble of losing his job.
It’s really unfortunate. It didn’t have to happen this way. We’ve heard several speculations about the behind-the-scenes shenanigans of some players, and none are pretty.
One thing is for sure, Bone didn’t think it all the way through when he marched into the Advance Fire Department earlier this year immediately ending a contract to have an EMS crew stationed there.
He may have had good reasons for that decision, but did it trump leaving 8,000 or more residents in that part of the county without immediate access to life-saving emergency treatments? Did it trump elminating their peace of mind just knowing that help was a few minutes away?
No, it did not.
It didn’t help Bone’s cause when he apparently left county commissioners – or at least some of them – out of the loop about the whole fiasco. When contacted after the decision to remove the EMS base had taken place, they seemed surprised. And angered. And rightfully so. A decision of that magnitude – unless needing an immediate decision, which this one did not – should be considered by the full board of county commissioners. They approved putting the base there, so they should be the ones who make the decision to remove it.
We wish David Bone the best. He is an honorable man, who would do nothing more than to try his best. We don’t see how he could have had any hidden agenda in this matter. Some of those bending his ears, maybe. We only hope that his resignation was based on more than this one bad decision. If he was forced out, which is more likely, we hope the commissioners based that decision on more than this transgression, too. Yes, it was a bad decision. But yes, it can be reversed, as well. And all could learn a good lesson.
Commissioners have held several closed sessions to discuss personnel issues in recent weeks, the latest coming on Friday just prior to Bone’s resignation. That pretty much says what happened. Commissioners aren’t supposed to make any decisions in a closed session, but even if they didn’t, Bone’s future with the county must have become really clear. There wasn’t one.
By Monday morning, Mike Ruffin was already on the job as the new interim manager. You may remember Ruffin, he’s been county manager here before. In more recent years, he’s been working as a senior consultant for a company that, among other things, helps cities and counties find new leaders.
Mike Ruffin can handle what’s thrown at him. He’s honest and forthright. We have confidence he will do what’s right for the people in Advance, for the employees of the EMS, and for all us.
Hopefully, he’s a good repairman, too. He needs to repair the relationship between the EMS and the Advance Fire Department. Almost all EMS employees and Advance Fire Department employees and volunteers have no problem sharing space. They have no problem getting along.
So, get to work, Mike Ruffin. Re-instate the EMS station at the Advance VFD.
– Mike Barnhardt