GREENE COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – Trying to overcome the reputation of a department plagued by controversy, setbacks, and strife, Tuesday, the interim Greene County/Greeneville Emergency Medical Services director presented a balanced budget to the EMS board.
The nearly $4 million budget comes after Greene County commissioners voted last month to restore more than $200,000 to EMS, reinstating a first responder unit for the South Greene district.
The projected budget Interim EMS Director Tommy Crouter presented to the board Tuesday won’t cost the city or county governments a penny if all goes as planned. While there’s certainly a sense of optimism with this “changing of the guard,” questions still remain about the future of Greene County/Greeneville EMS.
“This puts us closer to being competitive,” Crouter pointed out at the EMS board meeting.
Competitive was the key word during Crouter’s budget presentation, emphasizing the need to raise EMT and paramedic salaries.
“If we’re not going to be competitive we can’t recruit, and if we can’t recruit we can’t staff our ambulances, and if we can’t staff our ambulances then – game over,” Crouter said.
Crowder’s biggest salary cut – his own. As for employees, he researched the average salary for the region. Though he was not able to bring them up to that average and stay within budget, the salaries would still be higher than they are now in the new budget.
Board members commended Crowder on his progress of creating the sense of a new beginning for a troubled department.
“It’s just kind of a new face, a fresh opportunity,” Greene County Mayor David Crum said.
That new face, includes new uniforms.
“We just have to wipe the slate clean and start fresh, 2.0 I guess you could say. But that’s the biggest hurdle is getting over those obstacles of misconception and misunderstandings and i’m not saying that won’t happen with me, but we’re going to do our best to not do that,” Crowder said.
In the meeting, County Commissioner Robin Quillen revived an ongoing controversy, making a motion to keep Greene County EMS the sole emergency provider, making it illegal for any private ambulance company to answer calls without the EMS director’s permission. Some have questioned whether Greene County EMS can handle the call volume. County Commissioner Eddie Jennings has been vocal about need for patients to have a choice about what provider to use. The motion carried. A resolution will go before the full County Commission for approval.
“The buck stops here. I am the person responsible for Greene County EMS right now. And I’m the one that’ll answer for it,” Crowder said.