In presenting the plan for approval, Byrd explained why and how the plan had been developed. He said the plan had been developed after the General Assembly mandated that counties across the state submit a plan to cover all entities of the EMS operation in their jurisdiction.
The plan would cover such things as training, medical procedures, vehicles, personnel, data collection (ambulance call reports), continuing education and medical oversight.
He told the commissioners that he had been working "off and on" to complete the plan for about six months.
He praised the efforts of the rescue squads in the county and specifically Sarah West for their part in helping bring the plan to fruition.
"A lot of time and energy was put into this plan which outlines how EMS (in Bladen) is going to operate both now and in the future," said Byrd. "The squads were very cooperative in helping to bring the plan together."
Regional EMS Director Pat Webb complimented Byrd, Sarah West and others who played a part in developing for what she termed "an excellent plan." She stated that the Bladen plan was one of the better ones that had been submitted to the state and that it had been submitted in a timely manner.
Byrd told the commissioners that the directive from the state requiring the plan requires counties to have more control over EMS activities in their jurisdiction and that system directors (Byrd is the system director in Bladen) will have a much broader role in ensuring that units are operationally ready.
In a later interview, he elaborated on the changes the new state requirements will mean to units.
"In the past, the state inspected EMS units and activities annually," said Byrd. "Under the new requirement the state's role will become more regulatory and more responsibility will be placed on the system director to ensure that equipment and units are operationally ready.
"That means that the EMS Director will be required to do frequent inspections of the rescue squads to include all facets of their operation," Byrd said. "The units will still be independent units; however, I will have to play a more direct role in ensuring that they meet requirements.
"The state will continue to conduct inspections under the new requirements; however, rather than conducting regularly scheduled inspections, they will just show up unannounced to inspect some facet of the operation such as vehicles or call reports," Byrd explained.
"If the state inspector detects a problem, a letter will be sent to the system director and county manager explaining the discrepancies," he added.
Byrd said if discrepancies detected by the state inspector are not corrected in a timely manner, the ramifications can be significant for a unit, such the suspending of a vehicle from operation. He said that is why it is so important for him to regularly inspect units and vehicles to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.
"All of our vehicles should always be ready to go on an EMS call with all the required equipment except when they are out for maintenance," Byrd said.
Byrd again praised the efforts of Sarah West in helping to get the plan developed and submitted to the state for approval.
"Sarah was the lead driving force that got the effort accomplished," he added. "She actually put this plan together. She did an outstanding job."