‘Don’t wait': Ga. county sheriff OKs police transports if EMS unavailable
Baldwin County Sheriff Bill Massee tried to reassure concerned citizens after Grady EMS declined to renew its contract with the county
By Billy Hobbs
The Union-Recorder, Milledgeville, Ga.
BALDWIN COUNTY, Ga. — Baldwin County Sheriff Bill Massee recently came to the defense of the Baldwin County Board of Commissioners concerning the current ambulance service provider.
“I don’t work for the county commissioners; I’m a constitutional elected officer,” Massee said during a recent senior citizens meeting held at a local church. “We have a good relationship. I’m going to tell everybody the ambulance service is not leaving because of anything that our county commissioners did. I’m going to tell everybody that.”
Massee’s comments referred to officials with Grady Emergency Medical Services opting not to renew its contract with the county. The ambulance service provider is also pulling out of its contracts with several other counties across the state.
The ambulance service is affiliated with the Grady Health System, which also operates Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.
“They’re like everybody else,” Massee said. “The biggest problem they have is staffing. They don’t have enough EMTs. It’s as hard to hire an EMT and a deputy sheriff as it is a math teacher. There ain’t a lot of them out there.”
The sheriff said his office also oversees operations of the county’s 911 system.
“I’m going to tell you that on many occasions, we get a 911 call, and even though we don’t run the ambulance service, we dispatch them,” Massee said. “Many times when we dispatch them, there’s not an ambulance in Baldwin County. And it has nothing to do with the sheriff’s office or the county commissioners. It has to do with the ambulance service itself.”
About a month ago, the sheriff said he had a deputy sheriff go to a call where an ambulance was needed but there wasn’t one available.
“My lieutenant on the scene said, ‘Put them in a patrol car and take them to the hospital,’” Massee said. “I’ve told my people regardless of liability, don’t wait. Do not wait on an ambulance. If you need to get someone to the hospital, even though that’s not our job, let’s do it.”
The sheriff reiterated that a change involving the ambulance provider was a business decision by Grady Emergency Medical Services and not the county.
(c)2023 The Union-Recorder (Milledgeville, Ga.)