The Crossett City Council approved an ambulance policy and waiver at its meeting Monday.

As requested by the council at an earlier meeting, Crossett Fire Chief Bo Higgonbotham presented a written copy of the city’s ambulance policy and a release of liability form to the council on Monday night.

After learning that Crossett had a policy in place that prohibited people from riding along in ambulances unless the patient was a minor child or the patient had some type of communication barrier, Councilwoman Lynn Rodgers asked to see the ambulance policy in writing.

Higgonbotham said the policy was in place as a safety protocol.

“There already has to be three people in the ambulance, the driver, the one with the patient and the patient, so the more people, the more lives on the line,” Higgonbotham said.

The policy that Higgonbotham brought to the council Monday was similar to the one he discussed with the council earlier this year, but included an additional exception.

Higgonbotham said the original policy made exceptions for minor children and people with communications barriers.

The updated policy adds a third exception which include a spouse who has no other transportation to the hospital. Higgonbotham said that a person with no other family or church group to transport them will be allowed to ride in the front of the ambulance in the passenger seat.

Higginbotham explained that it would be safer for a guests or family member of the patient to travel with family than to travel in the ambulance traveling at high speeds.

The policy states that passengers traveling with a patient will be required to sign a waiver, which the council also approved on Monday night.

In the discussions with the council earlier this year, Higgonbotham explained his reasoning for adopting such a policy. Higgonbotham said that because the ambulances travel at high rates of speed, adding people to the truck just added the possibility for more injuries should their be an accident. Higgonbotham also discussed the intense situations that sometimes occur in an ambulance transport and explained that the paramedics need to be able to focus on the patient and the driver needs to be able to focus on driving with no distractions.

Rodgers suggested that the ambulance workers provide the policy to the family of the patient during a transport so that the family could read and understand the policy.

“It’s just good business, and I think that people will understand once they see it writing and understand it, not only that it will give your employees a leg to stand on should they need to enforce it,” Rodgers said.

In other news:

-The Crossett East Lab students will soon begin working with the city of Crossett to put out trash bins in an effort to help “beautify the city.”

The EAST progam is in place to allow students to creatively find ways to help their community using the technology provided by EAST. The Crossett students have several ideas for community trash bins around town and their teacher, Audwin Bradford, asked if the council would set aside a time to discuss the project.

Bradford said the students planned to be creative with the bins and would create something attractive rather than an eyesore. Rodgers and Councilwoman Crystal Marshall said they think the project could be exciting and are happy to move forward.

“I’m all about cleaning up and as long as the bins are neat looking I love the idea,” Marshall said.

A representative of the Streets and Sanitation Department said the workers would have no problem with picking up the bins and emptying them once or twice a week as needed.

-Mayor Scott McCormick and city officials met with Southeast Insurance Tuesday to update the city’s health insurance policy, but results were not available at press time.

The mayor said he thought it would be a good idea to purchase the health insurance through a local company rather than continuing to go through the municipal league.

“Those ladies (at Southeast Insurance) are always answering questions and helping our employees anyway and I just think it will be better to be local than in Little Rock,” McCormick said.

-Representatives from the Crossett Water Commission attended the meeting and presented the 2016 audits to the council. Mary Jo Jones with the commission said that a city employee had been out with a family emergency and with a personal injury, which is what had caused the delay with the reports, but they were finally caught back up and she would now be submitting quarterly reports.

The council also approved a Water Commission request to add Greg Sivils to the empty commission seat.

-Water Superintendent Albert Mills told the council that the company loaning the money for the new water commission’s new water meters, which are part of a service improvement project, required the city to adopt a resolution to designate authorized signatures. The council asked City Attorney James Hamilton to draft a resolution for them to review at the December council meeting.

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