Tripp County ambulance director resignsWINNER — Following the use of a private investigator to probe its ambulance service and a public outcry about the investigation, the Tripp County Commission has made some policy changes.
By: Staff reports, The Daily Republic
WINNER — Following the use of a private investigator to probe its ambulance service and a public outcry about the investigation, the Tripp County Commission has made some policy changes.
Tripp County Ambulance Director Bev Vaughn gave notice of her resignation June 29 after the commission hired a private investigator earlier in the month to probe questions of integrity and ability of ambulance personnel, according to the Winner Advocate.
Vaughn has remained on as the interim ambulance director until the commission could hire a new employee.
Commission Chairman Virgil Novotny said in a short interview with The Daily Republic there is no problem with the service or dedication of the ambulance service personnel.
“There was just another issue we had to deal with,” Novotny said.
Although he wouldn’t directly say what the issue was, he said, “You take it from the Winner Advocate.”
The Advocate reported the commission also hired the private investigator to prevent a sexual harassment lawsuit.
The Daily Republic attempted to contact numerous other people involved in the issue, but calls were not returned.
The commission unanimously passed two motions during a June 28 meeting regarding the ambulance crew, according to the Advocate:
n Personnel issues must be brought to the ambulance director, medical director and liaisons from the commission.
n Patient care issues and concerns must be brought to the ambulance director, medical director, Commissioner Dan Forgey and Winner Regional Healthcare Center medical personnel.
The commission also discussed creating a separate handbook for the ambulance service to ensure specific instructions for the employees.
In an emotional meeting June 28, covered by the Advocate, members of the public and emergency medical technicians (EMTs) on the ambulance crew vented their frustration with the commission.
Many said the commission should have handled the matter internally by questioning the EMTs rather than wasting taxpayers’ money on a private investigator, which caused feelings of distrust.
Several audience members stood and asked for the commissioners to resign for having caused such distrust and insulting the award-winning ambulance crew of 35 members. The Tripp County Ambulance received a Service of the Year award in 2011 at the South Dakota EMT Convention, which is only awarded to one unit each year.
Each commissioner stood and apologized for the investigation, according to the Advocate, and the harm it caused in relations between the commission and the ambulance service. They insisted the investigation has ended and each said they hope to move forward rather than focusing on what has happened.