HUNTSVILLE — Scott County Commission voted 12-2 Tuesday to remove the interim tag from Jamie Byrd as director of the county-run ambulance service.
Byrd, a paramedic at the ambulance service, had been serving as interim director since the retirement of Jim Reed, the long-time EMS director, late last year.
Byrd was one of two candidates who had declared his candidacy for the position, along with former paramedic Rick Russ.
Each of the two candidates gave a brief statement to commissioners as they met virtually via Zoom videoconferencing technology and also answered questions from commissioners.
Byrd, who resides in Scott County’s 1st District, is married with three children. He is pastor of High Point Baptist Church in Oneida, and spoke of integrating his faith in both his job as an administrator and also his job as a paramedic.
“I have leadership skills to lead people in the right direction. For the ambulance service, I want to lead those folks in the right direction,” Byrd said, adding that “I believe we live in one of the best counties in our state” and that he would never choose to leave Scott County.
Russ, who has served multiple stints as a county commissioner and was a paramedic at the ambulance service for 27 years before resigning last year, said that the has worked in various capacities — including with the fire department, rescue squad and sheriff’s department — to improve Scott County, and said the ambulance service is in “dire shape” at the current time.
“People are tired. Things are going to happen,” Russ said. “People get aggravated.” Later, he added, “If something doesn’t change up there, it’s going to fall apart. And it’s going to fall apart pretty quickly.”
Fourth District Commissioner Kenny Chadwell brought up division within the ambulance service, an issue that was broached by Reed in his resignation letter to the commission last year.
Byrd said he was not aware of division within the ambulance service, except that “everybody is overworked.” Byrd said some EMTs and paramedics are working 36-hour shifts, and said he is currently in the process of attempting to bring people in, at least on a part-time basis.
Russ acknowledged the division, implying that employees are at odds with one another within the ambulance service.
“I’ve gotten a lot of calls from colleagues,” he said. “Things that really shouldn’t be going on that are going on. Over the last few years I’ve had to take a leadership role with the ambulance service. Everyone that has problems comes to me.”
Commissioners voted 12-2 to promote Byrd to the director’s role. Supporting Byrd were commissioners Donnie Bowling, Patti Brown, Sheila Buttram, Benny Carson, Harold Chambers, Blue Day, David Jeffers, Jerried Jeffers, Sam Lyles, Kenny Morrow, Mike Slaven and Paul Strunk.
Supporting Russ were commissioners Kenny Chadwell and Shonda Gray, both of whom represent Russ’s 4th District.