Billy Duncan’s recent promotion as Somerset-Pulaski County EMS Chief brings the count of newly-minted department heads in the city to three.
Somerset City Council, happy with Duncan’s leadership during several months of uncertainty as the city and Pulaski County government worked through contract issues, unanimously voted Monday to promote Duncan to the chief’s position.
Duncan had served as assistant chief under former chief Jim Latham.
“He did a great job through the transitions and with the county over the EMS agreement,” said Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler.
The newest agreement occurred as a result of a back-and-forth between the city and county that began in January when city officials said EMS had finished fiscal year 2012 in the red. Citing guidelines as per a 1995 interlocal agreement, the city asked that the county cover $982,907 of the shortfall.
The two entities worked to hash out their differences over the next several months until both governments came to a new agreement that would send more county money toward the EMS fund, and ensure the EMS service stayed available to all Pulaski County citizens.
Duncan has said around 80 percent of EMS runs are beyond Somerset limits. He said EMS averages about 12,000 calls a year, and it takes more than 100 full-time and part-time paramedics and EMTs, along with office staff members, to cover those calls.
Throughout the uncertainty, Duncan continued to assure concerned citizens that EMS service would be available to everyone, no matter what.
“The community doesn’t need to worry,” Duncan told the Commonwealth Journal in March. “We’ve got a great ambulance service with a great staff who’s going to provide this service regardless.”
Girdler said council members “felt very confident” in Duncan’s leadership abilities, which led to the unanimous vote Monday after a lengthy executive session for personnel discussions.