Observers says CCAD’s closed meeting on Sept. 29 took place on this shuttle bus. KMZU could not confirm because of darkness and tint in windows. (KMZU photo)

CARROLLTON — Observers say Carroll County Ambulance District’s lengthy closed session meeting Tuesday night took place on a shuttle bus. KMZU couldn’t confirm the unique meeting location due to darkness and tint of windows; however, others viewed members going into the bus and later utilizing their cell phones as flashlights. CCAD board president Caren Bittiker did not respond to an email sent early on Wednesday.

According to the notice provided by CCAD, the meeting location was to be at the ambulance district, 603 N. Mason St., Carrollton. Since the shuttle bus was in the facility’s parking lot and the notice didn’t specify an exact location, like the district’s board room, it likely didn’t violate law. But it poses the question as to why.

Because it was primarily a closed meeting to the public, the board cited reasons for its closure, as required by Missouri Sunshine Law. Those provided were personnel reasons, which could include employee records and discussions who may be hired, fired, disciplined or promoted, as well as legal actions. By law, any vote on a personnel decision is to be made available on how each member voted within 72 hours at the close of the meeting.

Personnel and legal issues appear to be top priorities from recent board decisions. On Thursday, its six remaining full-time EMTs will be reduced to part-time status with no benefits. Staff was formally notified in a board memo on Sept. 15. Three paramedics — two full-time and another paramedic who worked at near full-time capacity – have been fired since administrator Mario Defelice’s short tenure. Among those, Janis Aldredge and Carla Schenk, have obtained legal counsel. Other than Defelice, the district has no full-time paramedics on staff – at least prior to Tuesday’s meeting.

With that, CCAD is experiencing a staffing shortage. It put Carroll County Memorial Hospital on notice in a Sept. 23 board memo, stating it regrettably “cannot take as many transfers as it has in times past, but prior to recent events, the paramedics on payroll refused to come in and take the transfers since it was their day off.”

Carroll County Memorial Hospital is utilizing air and ground ambulances from Kansas City and nearby ambulance districts when CCAD crews aren’t available, according to CEO Jeff Tindle. Even the Carrollton Police Department was called to action recently to transfer a CCMH patient to another facility because of CCAD’s lack of staffing.

In an open records request, KMZU obtained call-service logs that indicate when Carrollton police were called to transport patients since July. All but one, were court ordered by the associate circuit judge in Carroll County. However, the most recent on Sept. 24 was to help the hospital, because “CCAD refused due to manpower issues,” the document states.

A police captain was called in on his day off to perform the task, Carrollton Police Chief Chris Looney says.
A subsequent email from CCMH Director of Emergency Services Deborah Smith thanks the department “In this time of crisis, we were not able to get CCAD to transfer due to lack of a second BLS (Basic Life Support) crew,” the emails says.

CCAD says it plans to move the ambulance district into an all Advanced Life Support service, and is working toward ALS coverage in hospital transfers and 911 emergency calls. The board and administrator are actively hiring for paramedics with 1 to 2 years of experience, according to its job postings on Indeed.