Rural/Metro and staffing and Knox County

OK, so there are some issues with staffing availability with Rural/Metro.

Primarily this is connected to a recent rule change for EMTs in the state from August 2014, according to Rural/Metro staff, that requires people on ambulances to be level II EMTs instead of level I EMTs – which is how it used to be.

If you want to get far into the weeds on the rules that regulate ambulances and their staffing, check out the state rules here.

Also Rural/Metro folks have been meeting with county people all week on the issues raised by a letter earlier this month. And then there was this other story we wrote about Rural/Metro response.

If you want it put simply, the gist is that there have been a string of issues causing the county to say “hey, what’s up?” And Rural/Metro reacted, said some of the concerns are just false, others are more nuanced, and yes, there is a problem with staffing.

And as it goes, there’s more to untie. As Tom Milton, community relations director for R/M said earlier, the change in state regs was most likely done with good intentions.

Also, state officials say that the change was done to keep in line with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s National EMS Scope of Practice Model. It’s worth showing the introduction to the issue:

Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel treat nearly 20 million patients a year in the United States. Many of these patients have complicated medical or traumatic
conditions that require considerable knowledge, skill, and judgment to be treated effectively in the out-of-hospital setting. Some are critically ill or injured, and the proper
care can literally make the difference between life and death. For most patients, their crisis may not be a matter of life or death, but it is no less significant to them and their
family. High quality out-of-hospital emergency care is an important part of the United States health care system.
As of 2003, there were 840,669 certified out-of-hospital care personnel in the United States (Lindstrom and Losavio, 2004), and the nation’s annual expenditure for EMS
topped $6.75 billion (Sayer, Brown et al., 2001). Emergency Medical Services are diverse and complex systems. Until now, there has not been a national system to aid
States in the evolution of their EMS personnel scopes of practice and licensure. In 1996, there were at least 44 different levels of EMS personnel certification in the United States

… you can see how that set up an effort to have some kind of consistency among departments. So let’s look at the next coupla grafs:

As part of this project, a survey of all of the States and territories was conducted in 2005. Of the 30 States and Territories that responded, we were able to identify 39 different licensure levels between the EMT and Paramedic levels. This patchwork of EMS personnel certifications has created
considerable problems, including but not limited to:
• public confusion;
• reciprocity challenges;
• limited professional mobility; and
• decreased efficiency due to duplication of effort.
The EMS Education Agenda for the Future: A Systems Approach (2000) identified the need for a National EMS Scope of Practice Model as one of five components of an integrated, systematic approach to regulation of EMS education, certification, and
licensure. This system will help ensure safe and effective out-of-hospital, emergency care. It relies on a “hand-in-glove” relationship between competency certification and
professional licensure. The development of the National EMS Scope of Practice Model is part of the continued commitment to realize the vision of the EMS Agenda for the Future
and the EMS Education Agenda for the Future: A Systems Approach.

You can read the rest at your leisure.

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UPDATE II: Local mayors and others react on SCOTUS ruling supporting same-sex marriage

Big ruling today from the Supreme Court. Here’s what Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero said, through a release:

As a signer of the Mayors’ Brief in support of the plaintiffs, I am thrilled and thankful for this ruling. It is great news for our LGBT family members, friends and neighbors. And really, it is great news for all of us. A society that fully values and respects all of its members is a more fair and just society for us all. As a Knoxvillian, I am especially proud of Valeria Tanco and Sophy Jesty for their role in this historic case. They stepped forward on behalf of LGBT families and their allies across Tennessee, and we all owe them a debt of gratitude. I know what will mean the most to them is the simple fact that their marriage will now be legally recognized just as much in Knoxville as it was in New York.

She’s having a news conference in her office later today. What questions would you ask her? Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett’s reaction was much shorter, but supportive of the ruling:

Regardless of anyone’s opinion, same-sex marriage is now the law of the land, and I and my staff will work with state and other local officials to ensure that we comply with today’s Supreme Court ruling.

Here’s the Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini:

With today’s decision we see that love and respect has triumphed and we rejoice knowing that every person has the right to marry the person they love. Today is a day that Democrats celebrate with those couples as they build strong families while securing a future for themselves, in Tennessee and across our nation. Justices ruled in the landmark decision that gay and lesbian couples have a constitutionally protected right to marry and that states must recognize those marriages. The justices found that the right to marry for same-sex couples is protected under the 14th Amendment.

And the Tennessee Republican Party Chair Ryan Haynes:

Tennesseans overwhelmingly voted to define marriage as between one man and one woman. If a change was to be made, it should have been allowed to play out through the democratic process but, unfortunately, today’s judicial activism short-circuits that ability. While this has long been pushed by the Democrats’ agenda, the issue is far from settled.

Here’s County Clerk Foster Arnett, who, like the Sevier County Clerk Karen Cotter, is waiting until the Tennesse Attorney General issues a statement at 3 p.m. Arnett:

It’s real simple. We’re waiting on the Tennessee Attorney General to rule, and that’s all we’re going to say.

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It’s not construction, but it’s in the neighborhood – Washington Pike meeting

The city announced a meeting on the possibilities for what Washington Pike could look like … someday.

From the city:

What: Public meeting on design of the Washington Pike Roadway Improvements Project

When: 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Where: Harvest Park Community Room, New Harvest Park, 4775 New Harvest Lane

Who: Staff from the City of Knoxville’s Engineering Department and the City’s consultants (CDM Smith) for the Washington Pike Roadway Improvements Project will hold a public meeting on the roadway concept design for Washington Pike from I-640 to Murphy Road.

Although the Washington Pike Roadway Improvements Project is not currently scheduled for construction, this meeting will provide information about the project status, present the concept design for streetscape improvements and provide an opportunity for public comments and suggestions.

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Knox County Budget/middle school construction – what’s next

As outlined in our story today, Knox County Schools Board of Education will next see the county budget. Really, just a portion of it.

One might think that they have some power to influence the county budget, but that is not so.

According to Knox County Law Director Richard “Bud” Armstrong, if the school board denies the budget amendment (the Memorandum of Understanding, a.k.a. the contract), then the county’s budget – it’s capital improvement plan – would revert to what was originally proposed by Mayor Tim Burchett.

So the school board gets to choose for itself whether to build two new schools, and make nonbinding agreements on a host of other things, outlined in this latest agreement.

Apparently there have been some revisions since the original agreement was issued last week. Here’s that .pdf: 2015-06-15 MOU

Speaking with a few insiders, it appears there’s a demand for the AJ building from area developers. And it looks like developers are champing at the bit to get public funds for the middle school projects. But really – who doesn’t like public money?

Something to consider – when and if the AJ building is sold, it will take a while to find a home for schools administration and move them out. That is, don’t expect that to happen within any narrow time frame.

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Reboot – UPDATE: Derp

UPDATE: You guys must be loving this out in politics land … anyway, I’ve got this side project that I fool around with in my spare time.

For you wordpress users out there, keep in mind what blog you’re posting to when you have multiple blogs.

This, friends is why they don’t let we scruffy reporter types have the keys to the store.

Yes, I deleted the post. Also, go read The Onion.

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Litigation fees, excess fees and the Knox Criminal Court Clerk

Today we ran a story about the potential litigation fee Knox County Commission is expected to discuss later this month.

It’s an issue we’ve been tracking for some time, and has led to a few colorful comments

from at least one attorney in town who opposes the extra fee.

“I’m against the idea. I’m against the idea of allotting any air supply to the individuals who have the idea,” Mike Whalen said.

Turns out, the $5 fee would be tacked on to a bevy of courtroom costs that pay for the DA, clerk, jail and even school construction. Criminal Court Clerk Mike Hammond said that

Mike Hammond

Mike Hammond

the extra money would contribute to excess fees that he hopes to turn over to the county. So, we asked if there has been any excess fees in recent years his office has turned over to the county. This was his reply, today. In short, none have been given – except when outgoing clerk Joy McCrockey cleaned out the account. In Hammond’s words:

According the Chris Caldwell, no excess fees were turned over in Fiscal year 2011, 2012, or 2013.  $600,000 was turned over in FY 2104.  $600,000 was also turned over before she left office, but that money drained the clerk back account and was returned to me when I took off office September of 2014.  So bottom line is in five years $600,000 was turned over.

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Figures behind increased city permits and inspection revenue

Yesterday we reported on increases in fees collected by Knoxville for inspections, plan reviews and permitting. A few folks in building, real estate and in elected office told us what figures show – it’s expected to be the best year since the recession for building in Knoxville, according to revenue from fee collections.

And that’s with a fee schedule that hasn’t changed since 2002. Here’s a historical accounting of those fee collections:

2000                          1,544                          9,191                        32,444 $       1,315,768.95
2001                          1,361                          9,866                        30,852 $       1,266,400.92
2002                          1,351                          9,393                        33,232 $       1,261,881.20
2003                          1,340                          9,574                        45,887 $       1,552,061.60
2004                          1,340                        10,484                        48,626 $       1,883,463.15
2005                          1,447                        11,473                        55,944 $       2,094,712.50
2006                          1,489                        11,902                        58,938 $       2,043,747.15
2007                          1,544                        13,439                        59,107 $       2,244,437.75
2008                          1,291                        10,984                        56,881 $       1,965,542.22
2009                        1,088                        9,426                      56,171 $         1,660,155.30
2010                          1,046                          8,868                        48,283 $       1,402,404.50
2011                            951                          9,330                        47,997 $       1,363,843.20
2012                          1,181                          9,805                        46,389 $       1,629,988.82
2013                          1,286                          9,066                        49,709 $       1,633,139.27
2014                          1,182                          9,664                        53,123 $       1,678,577.20
2015 *                          1,146                          8,863                        53,829 $       1,953,200.00
TOTALS                      20,587                    161,328                    777,412 $     26,949,323.73
* FYE iincludes estimation of May & June
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