Pettis County Ambulance District employees announced during Tuesday night’s Board of Directors meeting they have chosen to organize into a labor union with the International Association of Firefighters.

The group is formally the Professional Paramedics and EMTs of Pettis County and is known as IAFF Local 5229. Local 5229 President Bobby Schieber spoke to the board about the decision. 

“I’m sure that all of you have many questions as to why we have elected to organize,” he said. “The primary reason we have organized and formed this Local is to better serve the citizens of Pettis County and also the ambulance district. Organizing provides employees an opportunity to be involved with the important decisions and changes that affect the district, district employees and the people we serve. We hope that we can build a professional working relationship with the board through transparency and open communication.”

Schieber said IAFF offers GIS mapping for the district, free financial analysis and grant writing assistance, and the ability to post job openings on a nationwide website. For employees, IAFF offers free inpatient and outpatient PTSD treatment, discounts on home and auto insurance, free training to members from continuing education units to help employees relicense, and leadership courses, among other benefits.

Schieber asked the board to consider formally recognizing the union and to allow employees to deduct union fees from their paychecks. Board Chairman John Meehan said the board was not ready to vote but thanked Schieber for his presentation.

During her report, CFO Jamie Luebbering reported the district is almost entirely within budget so far this year, with the exception of April election costs being higher than expected. More money has been spent for EMS equipment maintenance than budgeted but medical equipment is under budget, so Luebbering will bring the board a resolution at the next meeting to make budget adjustments in those two areas.

She also reported service fee revenue has been trending lower this year and sales tax revenue year-to-date is also lower than in 2018.

The board will be considering a long-term plan for the district after its next board meeting. As budget planning season begins next month, Meehan asked EMS Chief Eric Dirck and Luebbering to notify the board of staff budget meetings so members can attend as available. That turned into a discussion about strategic planning after Luebbering asked the board for more direction as she creates the 2020 budget.

“To help us with that process, we need to get some sort of long-term plan put in place to work backwards to do our budget,” she said. “We need to have some sort of big plan where we want to be in five, 10 years so we can work towards that. Right now we’re working one year at a time and we need to spread that out.”

Board Treasurer John Fritz said he agreed, noting he has previously suggested to the board that they host a strategic planning session “to sustain the mission and vision of the district in the next five to 10 years.”

Meehan asked if there was a company the board could hire to look at the district and create such a plan. Fritz said he believes no one knows the district better financially than the board members and that hiring a company shouldn’t be necessary. After the board agreed to create a capital improvement plan, Meehan said he would participate but would not lead the discussion.

The board will begin that process after the regularly scheduled meeting Sept. 10.

Assistant EMS Chief Roy Pennington gave a report about DMAT (Disaster Medical Assistance Team) and the State Fair Fire Department as he has been working with both entities throughout the Missouri State Fair. 

According to Pennington, SFFD has had about 110 calls since starting Aug. 7, with about 80 of those medical; others were mostly standbys. Most medical calls have been transported to the DMAT tent next to the State Fair Fire Station. Those not taken to DMAT either refused treatment, occurred while DMAT was not open, or had conditions that were more than DMAT could handle so the patient was taken to Bothwell Regional Health Center.

The EMS team at the state fair includes a few PCAD employees along with volunteers from across the state and five ambulance units.

Pennington said the busiest day so far was Saturday when SFFD ran 30 calls. At one point they were so busy SFFD called for mutual aid from PCAD, but the call was canceled before arrival.

Dirck noted that for the first time, the state fair EMS teams are using the same electronic reporting as PCAD so the district will have more information and statistics to use once the fair is over.

The board also:

• Approved a bid from Mid-State Roofing for approximately $35,000 for headquarters roof repairs.

• Directed Fritz to contact the district’s insurance company and request a written statement about an expected timeline for an decision and payment regarding the unit damaged in a July 4 crash. Dirck said he expects the vehicle to be totaled, but the adjuster has not made that decision yet.

• Authorized Meehan to sign an agreement with MoDOT granting a temporary easement at the district’s West 16th Street property while MoDOT conducts improvements in the area. Meehan had concerns about the legal description of the land in question, so he and the board agreed to not sign the agreement until that is resolved.

• Approved Dirck spending $4,400 to replace a unit’s transmission. Dirck said the unit is still in good shape and should work for another 60,000 miles, plus it houses thousands of dollars of useable equipment, so he thought replacing the transmission was a better value than purchasing a new unit.

Member Greg Nehring was absent.


Nicole Cooke is the editor for the Sedalia Democrat, overseeing all newsroom operations and assisting with news coverage of Sedalia and Pettis County. She can be reached at 660-530-0138 or on Twitter @NicoleRCooke.

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