Cairo-- Grady County leaders hope a new EMS director will help provide excellent emergency care and help mend fences after some controversy within the department.
The former EMS director stepped down after the NAACP began investigating the county because of complaints that EMS employees made racial slurs. The county hopes a change at the top of EMS is a step forward.
After Darryl Edwards resigned as Grady County's EMS director in March, the county began searching statewide for his replacement. "We had four real good, you know real good qualified applicants. And then I narrowed it down to two, which I recommended," says county administrator Rusty Moye.
The county decided to hire Billy Rathel, 16 year EMA director of Miller County. "He brings with him an excellent record of personnel management," says Moye.
Grady county EMS staffs 20 people, 15 of those are paramedics and EMTs anxiously awaiting the start of a new chapter, with their new leader.
Paramedic and shift manager Albert Givens says, "I'm absolutely ecstatic to have him join us and work under his leadership. His credentials are exemplary. He's a fair man, a just man, and very knowledgeble in EMS."
As a licensed practical nurse, Rathel brings experience that Grady county EMS did not previously have. "He knows the hospital end of it, he's worked in a hospital. And we need to improve our relationships with the hospitals that we serve and service," says Moye.
Givens adds that Rathel is just the type of person they need as an EMS director. "Someone who's very knowledgeable of EMS, someone who's very knowledgeable of new procedures and new technologies that come out, they change daily. So someone that will be able to come in and add to what we're doing, and improve what we have existing. And I think he'll be able to do that."
The county administrator says Rathel will hit the ground running in his new position on Tuesday.
The director of the local NAACP chapter says he's heard good things about Rathel and is looking forward to meeting him. He says though, they will not stop investigating county officials.