Nettle says decision is personal choice

OSCEOLA COUNTY — Since his hire in June 2007, Osceola County Emergency Medical Services Director Ed Nettle has created a chain of command within his department, initiated progress on a new EMS base project and gained the respect of both his employees and those who oversee his work. Now, after five years as director, Nettle is moving on. Earlier this month, Nettle accepted a position as the 9-1-1 Director for the Roscommon County 9-1-1 Central Dispatch. “One of the hardest decisions I’ve ever made was to leave Osceola County EMS as the director,” Nettle said. “It has such a bright future and I’m proud to have been part of the system here. It’s not so much a professional choice for me as much as it is personal choice.” Nettle, who grew up in Roscommon County, will serve his last day in Osceola County on Sept. 4 before moving back to his hometown to live near his family. “Ed has brought us quite a way. He’s brought a level of professionalism to Osceola County EMS,” said Dave Brooks, chairman of the Osceola County Board of Commissioners. “He’s making the right choice for himself and his familiy, but I’m sad to see him go.” During Nettle’s time in Osceola County, the EMS department has increased in financial stability, Brooks said. Before Nettle, some ambulance replacements came up inconveniently at the same time, but Nettle implemented a schedule of ambulance repair and maintenance to keep such things from happening again. “The first year I was on the commission (in 2006), I can remember us having to take money from our capital expenditure fund and give it to EMS,” Brooks said. “Now, they are the highest income we have. It has come a long way.” The service also has added an additional backup ambulance to the fleet, switched to an electronic system to log daily equipment checks and done away with three-day-long shifts while Nettle was at the helm. “Through negotiations with our employee’s union, we feel we have improved the service and our shift schedule. No longer are (emergency personnel) working 72 hours straight on a regular basis. They are now working for 48 and 24,” Nettle said. “Working 72 hours and being very busy, there’s always that question of, ‘are we compromising patient care by working those long hours?’ We’ve managed to reduce that in my time here.” Though improvements to the department stemmed from his effective leadership, Nettle credits his employees for their hard work implementing change within the department. “I have to give credit to some of the staff members here as well,” Nettle said. “It’s not all me.” Along with working together to improve the department under Nettle’s direction, staff members also have been reclassified to establish a chain of command. Nettle implemented the classification of shift supervisors for each shift and the assistant director’s position two years ago, which currently is filled by Jeremy Beebe, who previously served the department as a paramedic. “(Ed) is a good leader and a good role model,” Beebe said. “He takes the tough decisions and tackles them regardless of what kind of (controversy) there may be.” A current topic creating controversy within Osceola County EMS, is the discussion of a project to establish a new EMS base or bases in undecided locations. As the idea first was discussed before Nettle’s time, he believes his departure will not impact the project’s future. “I know there’s been a lot of controversy over it. I honestly believe the county is on the right track,” Nettle said. “I don’t believe that a change in the director will change the fact that something needs to be done to improve the service in the north part (of the county) because the numbers dictate that.” Brooks agrees the development still will move forward after Nettle leaves. “This process really started years ago when Bob Schults (former EMS Director) gave us a recommendation. This is just a continuation of that,” Brooks said. In his new position as Director of 9-1-1, Nettle will take on a new, wider range of duties. He will be in charge of maintaining the central dispatch center staffing, financing and budgetting as well as oversee infrastructures for communication with emergency agencies. “I’ll be in charge of the emergency dispatchers who receive 9-1-1 calls and dispatch out all EMS, fire and police for Roscommon County, which includes approximately seven ambulance services, three township police departments, the county sheriff’s department, the Michigan State Police, the Department of Natural Resources law division as well as eight fire departments,” Nettle said. While Nettle moves on to a new position outside of Osceola County, Beebe said his leadership will be missed. “He’s going to be greatly missed in the EMS department. Everybody likes him,” Beebe said. “The next director will have some tough shoes to fill, that’s for sure.” The board will appoint an interim director at its Sept. 4 meeting. The job already has been posted and Brooks expects the position to be filled quickly. “After our last director left, we were in a dilema for a while and the county coordinator had to become interim EMS director,” Brooks said. “Now that we have Jeremy, he’s up to speed on everything and set to go, so it doesn’t leave us as much in the dark as last time this happened.” Brooks said the board will most likely appoint Beebe as the interim director and proceed with interviewing and hiring a permanent EMS Director. “It’s been a very enjoyable area to work,” Nettle said. “I’m proud to have been a part of this last five years with Osceola County.”