Bradley County sheriff, emergency services seek staff, vehicles

Bradley County sheriff, emergency services seek staff, vehicles

May 9th, 2013 by Paul Leach in Local Regional News

Bradley County Sheriff Jim Ruth.

Photo by Randall Higgins/Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - Personnel and vehicles are top priorities for Bradley County law enforcement and emergency services for the fiscal year starting July 1.

Bradley County Sheriff Jim Ruth and Danny Lawson, director of Bradley County Emergency Medical Services, gave presentations to the county's Finance Committee on Tuesday.

"It's got to the point where we cannot physically meet the demands during our peak hours," said Lawson, citing ever-increasing call volumes and years of tight budgets.

Lawson has requested additional part-time staff to cover evening shifts six days a week, bumping EMS part-time personnel costs from $502,000 to $571,000. Without the extra staff, he expects to pay $185,000 in overtime.

"We run out of trucks too often and are forced to call Polk and McMinn counties to cover our local calls," Lawson said in his budget request. "We are in a disaster mode about 10 times a month and out of trucks to respond."

Bradley County EMS also has requested a new Chevy Tahoe to replace its current command vehicle, and chassis replacements for a couple of ambulances. Wear and tear require the vehicles to undergo periodic overhauls, said Lawson.

New gear

The department also would like to introduce a new life-saving chest-compression device for heart-attack victims.

The $16,000, automatic CPR device enhances a patient's circulation better than manual compression and frees up emergency personnel, said Lawson.

"My hope is to have one on the supervisor vehicle, especially for long distances," said Lawson. "Ultimately, I would like one on every truck."

3 SROs, 2 deputies

The sheriff's office would like to add three student resource officers and two deputies, with vehicles for each, said Ruth. The base salary for each officer is $31,416 and each Chevy Impala patrol car costs $23,000.

The requested SROs would provide a second officer at Walker Valley and Bradley Central high schools. GOAL Academy, which only has 50 students, will receive its first SRO if the request is approved.

Ruth and several members of the Finance Committee debated the merits of placing an SRO at GOAL Academy because of minimal student enrollment.

"I don't like that, but what's going to happen if something happens up there?" asked Ruth. "That's the problem."

Providing an SRO for GOAL Academy is hard to justify when crowded middle schools have only one SRO each, said Commissioner Ed Elkins, committee chairman.

But Commissioner Adam Lowe said school officials want an SRO at GOAL Academy regardless of the enrollment.

Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis is scheduled to present a full budget proposal to the County Commission on June 3.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.