The Inside Story: 'High probability' Richmond Co. school board will reverse decision to remove ambulances from football games

Richmond County ambulance
The school system is dumping the ambulance trucks for one or two fire department EMTs. (WRDW-TV / Aug. 3, 2012)
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News 12 at 6 o'clock / Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- It looks like ambulances will be back on the sidelines when your child hits the football field this school year. That is the word from the Richmond County school system after News 12 shined a spotlight on a move the school system failed to run by parents.

The Richmond County PTA president issued the demand to reconsider the move right here on News 12.

"Put the $24,000 back into the ambulance. We need to have the physical ambulance sitting outside," said PTA President Monique Braswell less than a week ago.

The board voted to remove ambulances from the sidelines and replace them with EMS workers from the fire department.

"You are reconsidering things now?" we asked Dr. Carol Rountree, director of Student Services.

"Absolutely." she replied. "The board is reconsidering the move."

Why the quick turn around?

"It is a liability issue," said Charles Masters, president of the Augusta Firefighters Association.

He shot a sternly-worded message to local fire crews.

"I am encouraging you not to work the football games! Patient care belongs to you until an ambulance shows up. Me and you know on a Friday night in Augusta that could be forever," read the text message. "It is your EMT numbers and job that you will be risking for $100."

"You know and I know the city does not give a damn," Masters said. "They will drop them like a hot rock if something was to go wrong."

We asked Rountree if this was a bad call.

"I'm not certain it was a bad call," replied Rountree, who is also a mother with four athletic sons of her own.

"Number three played football for Georgia Southern, number two played baseball and number one ran track," Rountree said.

"As a mom, wouldn't you want an ambulance on the field?" we asked. "Yes or no?"

"I would want the equivalent of the services that an ambulance would provide," Rountree said.

Deputy Superintendent Tim Spivey seemed visibly bothered when we first started asking questions.

"I'm getting put off by being asked the same question over and over." Spivey said. "Like I said before, I think we have a good plan in place."

"You don't feel parents should have been part of the decision-making process?" we asked Spivey.

"In hindsight," Spivey said, "it might have helped."

That is especially true now that there is a new game plan.

"Do you expect that ambulance to return?" we asked Rountree.

"I think there is a high probability," she replied.

Braswell says she is happy the board decided to reconsider the move.

"The lesson is teamwork makes the dream work," Braswell said. "If the board and the parents of the PTA are teams, we can get a whole lot more done."

There is a special-called meeting next Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. The reconsideration is on the agenda.

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