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No formal request yet on ALS

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By Mark Scohier, Staff writer

About 60 people, including two county commissioners, showed up Tuesday night at the Tommy Usher Center in Chiefland to hear what city officials had to say about why Chiefland needs Advanced Life Support status from the county.

Chiefland Fire Rescue Chief James Harris, after narrating a scenario acted out by firefighters, told the crowd that ALS status for the city would, ultimately, save lives.

"This is what we're trying to do to help," he said. "We're only trying to help."

ALS status, which would have to be granted by the county, would grant access for city paramedics to life-saving drugs and equipment that would help stabilize patients until they could be picked up by an ambulance, which are in short supply in Levy County.

"Remember, there's only one ambulance in Chiefland," he said. "When that one's gone, it's gone." The next closest ambulance, for now, would have to come from Bronson or Cedar Key, he said.

But the issue, and the main reason for trying to rally support at Tuesday's workshop, is because the county has not granted Chiefland non-transport ALS status.

City officials have approached county commissioners at meetings in recent months about ALS, though county commissioners have told those officials that they would need a formal request from the city commission stating services requested, as well as a willingness to meet in workshops on the matter.

Several Chiefland residents spoke up Tuesday night about why they felt ALS is needed in the city. Some even shared their own stories dealing with life threatening circumstances.

One unidentified woman asked Harris, "What are the barriers ...?"

Harris said he didn't know and suggested she make time to consult with county commissioners on why the city has not been granted ALS status.

Another asked County Commissioner Ryan Bell, who was in attendance at the meeting, what it would take.

Bell said the county's position could be elaborated on in a formal meeting and he added he was just there to get a sense of how the community felt about the issue.

After a bit more discussion on the benefits and details associated with obtaining ALS status, it was again brought up what it would take to get a deal passed by the county.

Chiefland Vice Mayor Teresa Barron told the audience "we need you to write a letter" expressing views on the matter.

Bell again spoke up and pointed out that in the last few months the county commission had been approached a few times by officials.

"We have still yet to receive a formal request, empowered by the Mayor, from the City of Chiefland."

Harris read part of a letter from the city requesting ALS services. Bell asked him who it had been signed by. Harris said it was signed by Barron and City Manager Kevin Gay.

Bell said the letter needed to be signed by the mayor to hold up legally.

Mayor Teal Pomeroy, who had earlier been in attendance at the meeting, was nowhere to be found when this portion of the conversation began. City staff said later that he had to leave because of a family situation.

Barron said she and the commissioners were unaware that they needed to submit a formal request signed by the mayor. Gay said he'd do his part to try and get the letter going.