Decatur EMS Crews Walk Off The Job Over Late Paychecks

(FILE)

(FILE)

DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) – Decatur EMS Inc. (DEMSI) crews parked their ambulances Friday night and saying they would not work until they are paid, according to several reports from inside the organization.

Sources tell WHNT News 19 that the crews logged off their Mobile Data Terminals, which effectively took the first ambulance “off the grid” for area 9-1-1 dispatchers beginning at approximately 5:30 Friday afternoon. By 6:00 P.M., the company’s other two ambulances had also logged off and were out of service.

Decatur Fire & Rescue Battalion Chief Ted McKelvey, who also serves as the city’s EMS Coordinator, confirms he was notified by 9-1-1 dispatchers just before 6 P.M. Friday night that there were “some personnel issues” at DEMSI and that the company was no longer answering calls. McKelvey tells WHNT News 19 that he immediately took steps to make certain Decatur had adequate EMS service available.

“It’s important for people not to worry about the availability of emergency medical care,” McKelvey said. He added he had contacted First Response Ambulance Service and that they were staffing additional vehicles to cover the city. He says there has been no lapse in EMS coverage.

The work stoppage comes in the wake of a WHNT News 19 report last month that highlighted past bounced and late paychecks and other money and performance problems.

DEMSI owner Roger Stanmore has reportedly told employees there is no money in the bank to pay them and says they can’t expect to be paid until Monday. WHNT News 19 made several attempts to contact Stanmore but those phone calls have not been returned.

DEMSI is one of two EMS services currently operating inside the city.

An operations manager at First Response, the other EMS company in Decatur, confirms they are staffing a number of additional crews Friday night because of the surprise work stoppage.  Those officials vow EMS services will be covered in Decatur until this situation is resolved and that people should not worry about having an ambulance respond if they need one.

Last month, DEMSI representatives were called before Decatur’s Emergency Medical Services Committee to explain why they had not been in compliance with city ordinances requiring a set number of ambulance vehicles and crews to be available at any given time. An attorney for the company, Barney Loveless, admitted the company had fallen short of those requirements for a brief period of time last October. Loveless would not respond to questions regarding employee’s paychecks. The committee took no action against the company.

When asked about the issue of late and bounced paychecks, McKelvey told WHNT News 19 in January that any issue that affected patient care would come under the jurisdiction of the EMS Committee. He said at that time, however, that no formal complaint had been filed to his knowledge.

Contacted by telephone at home Friday evening, McKelvey said he could neither confirm nor deny that a complaint about pay issues had been filed with the EMS Committee. He said if such a complaint did exist, it would remain under investigation until such time as a public comment could be made.

McKelvey, who says two DEMSI ambulances were back on-line and available to answer calls by 8:30 P.M., says the city is on-top of the situation and stresses Decatur has full EMS coverage. He says the other members of the committee have been notified about the situation and will discuss the issue with the city’s legal department next week to see what, if any action would be appropriate.

WHNT News 19 is aggressively monitoring continuing developments regarding this story. Refresh this page for updates.
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52 comments

  • Former Dispatcher of GEEMS

    You can’t blame them. I am a former employee of the other EMS Service Roger Stanmore owns in Gadsden and he has done the same there. The lies that have been told are beyond ridiculous. Corporate can’t keep them straight.

    • Scott

      Join it. Rural metro and A-med will cover Gadsden. It will be the only way to make him get serious about doing right.

  • Matthew

    My company has our issues and I am sorry to say that this is not a situation unique to Decantur. Arizona, speficially the phoenix area, has come close to this many times. Corporate is typically more worried about padding their pockets rather then paying bills on time…or a all. Good luck to my brother and sisters, believe it or not they did the right thing.

    EMS is a tricky buisness to be a part of. If you walk away you are considered a deserter but if you stay you go bankrupt. Good luck and god speed!

  • 4412 co rd 72 fortpayne al 35968

    this is sad these employs endure long hour shifts and do everything in their power when duty calls and they have families that count on them also they don’t just do it to do it its their living their livelihood and their being put in a very unfair situation belive they should be paid imeditally and also compasatsed for any bank draft charges or anything else that effects their bank accont and if they have had ultilitys turned off the comp should have to reimburse them for that too
    pay these people they done their job now do yours shame on you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Ellen Ellen

      See how quick these brave workers get paid if some of the owners loved ones are involved in an emergency situation and help is not available. This is a disgrace. These people need to be paid and let other bills be late. Personally, if I had a loved one who passed away because these crews were not available when needed, I would hunt somebody to assault (badly with grave bodily harm) and it would NOT be the first responder.

  • jon

    I don’t blame or fault them one bit… put yourself in their shoes for a minute, could you take care of your family if you wasn’t getting a paycheck or when you do get one it bounces?

  • Kas

    My husband worked for the sister company in Gadsden & many months we had no idea how we would pay our bills, buy food or diapers for our kids!! Gadsden should get on board they are going on 1 1/2 months with no pay. No one could survive like this.

    • Nicole

      Wow!!! Almost two months with no money?! Some people live check to check and cannot afford something of this caliber to happen… And sadly, he expects them to continue coming to work?! Can’t do that if I can’t feed my kid….

    • John

      Here we go again, blaming the scapegoat for the money-grubbing selfishness of rich business owners who would rather pay off their second sports car than pay their employees what they’ve earned. These EMS strikers aren’t whiny slackers. These are people who just want to feed their families another day. They’ve been given no choice but to act. The last thing we would want to do is take the responsibility off the smug business pig who isn’t bothering to pay these hard-working providers their paychecks.

    • MC

      Oh it’s Obama Care’s fault. Turns out it’s not the profit motive of a mismanaged Republican-voting Obama-hating ambulance business management team. Ok I get it. Thanks Tammy

      • Bill Cowman

        MC, glad you know so much about this. FYI, knowing Dr Stanmore, I’d be willing to bet he is an Obama supporter. This is about the crews not getting paid and reimbursements is a big part of that. Obamacare dictates those reimbursements.

    • Ben Vickers

      Although your statement doesn’t deserve a response, I feel you should know Alabama and “Obamacare” doesn’t exist. Nor do the benefits from it to include Medicade expansion and the financial support of several hospitals in this state. So, I advise you to go to Whitehouse.gov and find the section on healthcare reform. It will provide all the info you need regarding this plan which has already lead to indications of decreased healthcare costs and fewer deaths due to lack of healthcare. There are links on the site provided to check the data for accuracy and one I enjoy using is realclearpolitics.com. Happy Trails.

  • Unknown

    As a owner of an ambulance service , this is so sad and can not place blame on employees or management … Of the owner will not release funds to pay the bills or payroll , it’s on him solely … Praying for all them !!!!

  • Tony

    The Decatur Fire Department already runs ALS engines and should take over transport as we’ll and put an ambulance in every fire hall in the city. Then they could leave the privates to take care of the non-emergency stuff.

  • W.E.King

    To remind you this has nothing to do with the Affordable Health Care Act(as you states “ObamaCare”) this is more of a poor, sloppy mismanagement business with practices that started a long time ago.With the ObamaCare if claims are filed correctly and in a timely manner ,I am sure the business would get paid something that would increase the profit line President Obama can not manage everybody business,especially when there is failure at the top, business standards not effective or in place

  • former employee of Geems

    I don’t think they need to speak to Stanmore to confirm this story. I know for a fact the employees and his Gadsden location are not being paid. I am a former employee of Gadsden location and I know first hand how it is to be told on payday that you will not be receiving a check and they will tell you it will be Monday however, Monday comes and it’s going to be tomorrow and so on until you finally get a bad check that NO ONE will cash because they know he gives bad checks. This is one reason I walked out!!!! Sorry excuse for a man if you ask me. It will never get any better. His management will continue to cover his rear end because they get paid. I wish that someone would come and investigate him. walking off is not going to be enough, as we had been told before ” there is always someone to replace you with”…. New people coming out of school don’t know how this company works and they believe every little tale that’s told to them, they are just thankful to have a job right out of school. I will continue to pray for the employees that work very hard everyday to take care of our neighbors, family, friends and all our people.

  • ems employee

    And don’t forget to thank the First Response employees for stepping up to insure Decatur has full ems coverage..many employees came in after working 12 and 24 hour shifts to ensure coverage for all of us.

      • concerned Medic

        To Mr or Mrs unknown above,
        What kind of comment is that? Ha ha ha? Really, it is true. The ones that worked at First Response last night did so because they cared about the situation and instantly set all their plans and families aside just so the city of Decatur was adequately covered by the “city ems guidelines”. Most of those did so after working other shifts or having to work the next day. I myself see nothing funny about that. My hats off to the First Response employees and management team for putting a plan into action in a moments notice to take care of Decatur’s citizens and I am praying for all the hard working employees at DEMSI that can’t even afford to support their families due to a self centered greedy owner and horrible management team. Only time will tell how this will all play out, but the EMS committee AND the city council can’t say that they couldn’t see this coming because the warning signs have been there all along…..but the EMS committee chose to take no action against DEMSI at their last meeting. In my opinion, the EMS committee can take some of the blame for placing the EMS system in jeopardy. I know for a fact that all DEMSI employees are welcome to go to First Response, where the paychecks are always good and on time. Good luck to all my hard working brothers and sisters out there.

  • Skillpot

    Okay, Decatur City Council, would it not be in order to address the EMS issue, rather than concentrating on ‘Parking Fees?’

  • Charles Bavar

    sound like the employee has a class action law suit. a good lawyer could sue the owners. they could get him where it hurt him. ems council revoke his contracts. kick him out of Alabama.

  • steven

    I think regardless of being paid or not, when it comes down to a life saving service like EMS the employees should still work, what if there were no EMS crews on when they all decided to go Offline, and someone would have died.

    • Mary

      Steven, would you go to work if you were not going to get paid? Would you be able to afford gas to get to work after not being paid for a month, especially when all you make is $8.50-$9.00 per hour? Probably not. These people are work their butts off and barely can make ends meet when they actually do get a paycheck that doesn’t bounce.

    • Karinttt

      Steve, after two months and with no end in sight, with families to support, children to feed, clothe and give shelter to, these people have already more than done their duty. The city needs to make sure that they write a better contract next time. Perhaps withholding payment to the company and paying employees out of the withheld money after two missed checks, might be a good idea. Since this character has a habit of not paying employees, perhaps he should be banned from all contracts in the State of Alabama. But where are the city,county and state governments when you need them?

  • saddened by this

    This is an opportunity for everyone that knows an employee of this company to reach out with love and compassion in this difficult time and help in any way possible! Negativity won’t help, I believe there is enough of that in this situation already. Love and prayer sent to my brothers and sisters!

  • N

    Funny, My service did this in december-Feb. We were forced to apply for unemoyment but still come to work.. this was also a private service.

  • Susan Ranae Loudermilk

    My brother works for the same man at the one in Gadsden. He hasn’t been paid either. 9 times out of 10, when he does get a check, he can’t cash it because the checks bounce. He loves his job and puts himself at risk to save other people yet can’t get paid. Wonder how the company’s owner would feel if he worked 24+ hours and didn’t get paid..and if he would manage the company money correctly, he would be able to pay his employees.

  • Susan Ranae Loudermilk

    To address the comment from Steven..Question to you..If you have a job that doesn’t pay you…How do you afford gas to get there so you can work for free? How do you eat? Where do you live? If you are working for a company that doesn’t pay you, how do you make money to live?.. Work for free is called volunteering…which is great when you’re off from your job. Would you work for free all the time? If you can answer that with a YES, please explain to me how you pay your bills and take care of your family. I’d love to know so I can pass that info on to my brother and our best friend that is working for free and stressing over how to survive.

    • Sara

      Can’t speak for the whole county but the first responders in Madison City are great, as are our fire fighters who respond on all ambulance calls.

  • Zev, EMT (retired)

    I’m sure that A-Med and Rural Metro would gladly come in and take over the Gadsden area. So are your saying that these two company’s would come in and take the jobs of these men and women at GEEMS? at DEMS? Why not offer the employees a job? Is it because at A-Med you start out PRN and if you are lucky, real lucky, you might eventually get part time with them? And from part time to full time–how long is that going to take? There are people who have been waiting as long as two years to go full time with A-Med. Good luck with that folks! And Rural Metro? You could very well be on the chopping block from your own corporate entity because the company feels you don’t make enough money despite the fact that your call volume is tremendous. Didn’t your company file bankruptcy recently? Tread lightly RMA, you could be next in the unemployment line!
    Draw unemployment and still go to work someone mentioned. Do you not think that this issue hasn’t been addressed? They have been denied by the managers of the DEMS and GEMS offices to do just that, even though the relief of an unemployment check would have been enough to keep most of the people working with said companies.
    Class action lawsuit? Not enough money involved for a lawyer to take that into perspective. Who would make the money when all was litigated? You or your lawyer? And how long is that going to take? You need your money now! When the local District Attorney tells you that there is no law in the State of Alabama that governs the fact that your employer has to pay you on a timely basis or pay you at all, that you either continue working for free or find another job, then who do you turn to? The Federal Government? Yeah, sounds feasible, the Feds. Ha, they came in to the GEMS office and the only thing accomplished in that situation was the office released the checks they had been holding for two weeks, each and every check was bad.
    The “Let’s Hang In There and Work Together Because Things Are Going To Get Better Blues” song and dance routine, so eloquently performed by Stanmores’ cronies, has grown both old and weary to the ears of these men and women employed by this man. Yesterday DEMS decided to cut the song short and call it a day. You do what you have to do to survive and maintain sanity. Also, to the Ops Manager at GEMS, what are you thinking? You know there is something better on the horizon and yet yesterday you fell right back in to the Old Vaudeville hop line dance. Honestly, Dude, you should learn the Curly Shuffle. But, on the other hand don’t feel too terribly bad as many men throughout history have betrayed those close to them, Judas comes to mind.
    EMS is a passion, perhaps a calling. It lives in your heart and soul and consumes your life. Anyone that has ever been a bannerman to that big blue Star of Life will tell you exactly that. If you don’t feel that way then perhaps you should change jobs. Bless you all and good luck on your future ventures.

    • James H. Humphrey

      Sounds way past time for Decatur to bite the bullet and have its own Emergency Medical Service. Baker County, FL. has been set up that way for years and works just fine. All personnel are certified EMTs and are dispatched from the EOC (Emergency Operations Center) which dispatches all S.O., Fire Department & EMTs. The FD responds with an engine along with the EMTs, standard response for accidents and if drugs are involved a patrol unit in mandatory (as well as acccidents). I have seen the patrol units responds nearly every time an EMT is dispatched. Dispatch hits all three at the same time, works great. All county employees so they get all the perks. Many counties in Florida are set up the same way. I have read all the comments and seems like most of you are on target. An EMT (and others) has a calling, money is his lifeline but being an EMT is his passion. You have to have salary, I understand giving all you can but your family actually has to come first, that is the line in the sand.

    • Current GEEMS Ops Mgr

      you have no idea what you are talking about. I do however wish you would leave your real name so we could have this discussion face to face instead of hiding behind an anonymous name like a coward. I have a family to support just like everyone else and I am keeping my employees informed with what I know when I know it so they can make an informed decision about their future. If it is best that I stay with GEEMS then I will do so. If it is best for my family that I leave, then I will leave. For you to call me judas is just ridiculous and pathetic. But I wouldn’t expect anything less from a coward who takes to a blog to trash someone when they have no clue what they are talking about. Hide behind your fake name but I will not do so. I always take into account what is best for myself and my employees. Its true that we don’t get paid like we should and I should know since I am the last to get paid! I give money out of my pocket to help my employees and I put my own money out to get things we need. I try to take care of my people the best I can and for you to even insinuate otherwise makes you look like a fool. Everyone is free to leave if they choose. They tell me “we will do what you do”. I am not the be all, know all of ems and I don’t pretend to be. I have a lot of pressure on me just like all my employees. Each one must make their own decision and not what I say or do. But I don’t guess you would know anything about leadership at all. You cannot keep everyone happy in a leadership and manager role but I honestly believe if you ask any of my current employees they would tell you I try to do what is right and try to be fair and I care about them just as much as I care about myself. I have their loyalty and it means the world to me. So say what you will about the company and you can even say what you want about me, but my employees know the truth and they tell me every day that I am one of the biggest reasons they are still there.

  • Longtime medic

    Two services in Decatur. One doesn’t pay it’s employees and the other holds calls until one of it’s trucks is closer. Fire department, take over all ALS calls and let the private services fight over the BLS stuff.

  • Past GEEMS Operations Manager

    As a former Operations Manager at GEEMS, I personally have experienced the problems at this ambulance service. The issues with GEEMS and DEMS is far more than just bounced checks. The main problem is with the upper management. Every operation manager that has worked there in past and present has their hands tied. EMS decisions are taken out of the Operations Manager’s hands where they should be and given to an office manager’s control who has no EMS operational experience. Both EMS operations and Office/billing must communicate but should never cross manage. Until there is a obvious division between the office/billing and EMS field operations, the problems will continue to spiral down from lost revenue to ultimately bounced checks. Too many Chiefs and not enough Indians!

  • Longtime medic

    Agreed. Decatur EMS has been in service for a long time. The company should be one of the best in the entire state to work for. Poor and careless management is the reason why it’s not. Trucks are patched up instead of fixed and forget about new equipment. Management would rather buy used than give the employees reliable equipment. Surrounding services are always replacing their trucks. The public doesn’t see the owner or upper management driving trucks with body damage. The employees are the ones that look bad. The employees do have a responsibility to do what they can to maintain the equipment.

  • current dispatcher

    To the coward….all I can say to u is ” u have
    Clue what u r talking about”. Our ops mgr is the most upstanding and honest boss a company can have. I am honored to call him my boss as well as a friend. Thank u sir for all that u do for us! U know we support u and have ur back in whatever decision u make.

  • Gadsden needs EMS

    This whole thing stinks I see what Gadsden EMS service has been working with old trucks and problems that need repaired there work place is not fit for a dog. The money problems hurt everyone there credit takes a hit and listed as slow pay but there working with limited resources.

    • samantha ems

      Former dispatcher its people like you who give ems a bad name. I bet they are glad you are no longer a dispatcher. Shame on you.

      • current dispatcher

        Samantha ems u got that right. Its people like “former dispatcher” that give everyone the wrong perspective of what ems is all about. That person is prolly a disgruntled employee cause the couldn’t do their job correctly but its all good.

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