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Chief under fire

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The Ellis County Press

FERRIS - Councilmember’s questioned authority of their own city personnel during a public budget workshop Monday, June 28.

Fire Chief Eddie Duran was under fire from various council members about his presentation to the city on why they should keep Ferris as the Emergency Medical Service for the city instead of contracting with CareFlite, a non-profit company providing 24/7 emergency support.

"The city can only provide service from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m.," said Duran, also mentioning the department needed a new ambulance.

According to City Manager Eric Strong, the city would be able to save $115,000 in next year’s budget if the city contracted with CareFlite to handle all the emergency service calls.

"I have spoken with CareFlite and they said they would contract with us for one year at the rate of $36,000,"said Strong.

In addition to the $36,000 from the contract, the city would need to allot $10,000 for utilities.

Currently, the city budgets roughly $200,000 for EMS/Fire dept.

"I’m looking at a chart here and it’s telling me the city didn’t respond to 60 percent of the calls received," said Councilman Billy Don Dunn.

Duran said he is concerned he will not have enough people to respond to fires if the city contracts out.

"We also aren’t able to collect but around 30 percent of our costs,"said Dunn.

Ambulance service in the city currently is more than $1,600.

A few months ago, CareFlite provided free memberships to all residing in the Emergency Service District #5 including the city.

"Ferris didn’t want to be an ambulance business, I was here," said Dunn.

"What this is, is private companies, [East Texas and Care Flite] battling it out with each other.

All first responders will go, that means medical control, heart monitors, everything," said Duran.

Duran said for each volunteer he pays a dollar to, they have to be certified by the state.

"How many volunteers do you have?" asked Councilwoman Carol Wright.

"I have about 15 and seven of those are paid part time. "

Duran also said he only has a handful certified and couldn’t give exact numbers.

"One of the biggest situations we are in is if we contract, we will not be in control, they [CareFlite] might say they will do this or that but who knows if they will," said Duran.

The council decided to not take any action right now.

"I would like to see more data on why we aren’t taking these calls," said Councilman Bill Pardue.

The council will hold their next council meeting Monday, July 19 at city hall.

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Nelson Propane

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