Mountain Statesman | New Equipment, New Recruits Arrive at TCEMS After Hiring New Manager

TAYLOR COUNTY—Major changes have taken place within the Taylor County Emergency Squad (TCEMS) in the space of six months, and much of that has been attributed to the entity’s new manager .

After joining the team as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Gavin Watkins felt a desire to grow in his profession.

“I’ve been with TCEMS for seven years now,” he explained. “And even though I’ve worked with other agencies on a part-time basis, TCEMS has always been my home.”

Watkins achieved the rank of lieutenant in 2017, and after serving in that leadership role, he was named the team’s acting manager in August, and then on December 2, 2021, he was named manager.

“In the seven years I’ve been here, there have been several different directions the team has been taken in which has been difficult for TCEMS at times,” Watkins said. “I am honored to hold this position and hope that TCEMS will become one of the premier EMS agencies in the state.”

With this goal in mind, in the few months since taking office, Watkins has already initiated changes that have only helped the future of TCEMS.

“We are strengthening our staff and getting better equipment to be able to provide better care to our patients,” he noted.

So far, under his leadership, the agency has already ordered two new ambulances.

“The new ambulance was delivered last April with many safety features and new features in mind for our patients and for our providers,” explained Watkins.

Some of these upgraded features include airbags in the rear of the vehicle, harness-style seat belts that allow workers to maneuver to assist patients, an auto-locking patient compartment, as well as diffused lighting.

“We are able to diffuse both white and blue light, which will help provide a soothing experience for patients and help relieve eye strain for those suffering from headaches, migraines or even eye injuries” , revealed Watkins.

He revealed that the ambulance was purchased with the help of a fee and that TCEMS were also able to pay the balances of two of their other buses with this money as well.

With the new purchases, the agency will expand its fleet.

“We will be replacing our old two-wheel drive ambulance and adding an additional vehicle, bringing the total to four ambulances in our fleet,” Watkins noted.

In addition to the ambulances, TCEMS was also able to purchase two LUCAS devices. A LUCAS is an easy-to-use mechanical chest compression device that provides patients with consistent, high-quality chest compressions.

“It’s a very easy-to-use device, and all of our staff have undergone training to use this lifesaving procedure correctly,” Watkins said. “And LUCAS is already proving effective here. We brought back many patients with it.

He shared that not only have TCEMS crews been trained, but they are also working with members of the Grafton Fire Department to train them on the device as well.

“We now also have oxygen masks for animals,” Watkins explained. “If we go to the scene of a fire and the firefighters get a dog or cat out who is inhaling smoke, we now have specific masks that are reserved for cats, dogs and other pets, which makes it easier many things.”

“We are very aware that animals are truly part of someone’s family, so now we can better serve our community,” said TCEMS Lt. Michelle Mayle. “Each ambulance is fitted with a pack of three masks of different sizes, so whichever ambulance is deployed, they are covered.”

In addition to their new gear, Watkins expressed that he was happy to share that TCEMS has introduced a revitalized pay scale.

“We are now able to be more competitive with our remuneration, which should be very beneficial for us when looking for new recruits,” he explained. “Before, potential candidates could go to other counties and obviously get paid a lot more than we could, but now we’re competing with similarly sized agencies around us.”

Something Watkins says the agency has already leveraged, having hired new staff to join its staff.

And with a new, more efficient and cost-effective records management system, these employees will be better able to focus on their tasks, outside of their usual administrative duties. Another incentive for new recruits.

Watkins says these are just a few of the ways TCEMS is working to better serve Taylor County residents.

Mayle had nothing but praise for Watkins and the positive changes he has already implemented at TCEMS.

“He’s completely invested in this agency and this community, and he’s done an amazing job already,” she said. “We all look forward to continuing to work under his leadership and look forward to seeing the other positive changes he will bring to TCEMS. »

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