MOAD to require DOT physicals for crew members

By Laura Schiermeier, Staff Writer
Posted 2/4/21

VIENNA — The Maries-Osage Ambulance District (MOAD) has approved requiring new hires to get a Department of Transportation (DOT) physical.

At the January board meeting, MOAD Administrator …

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MOAD to require DOT physicals for crew members

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VIENNA — The Maries-Osage Ambulance District (MOAD) has approved requiring new hires to get a Department of Transportation (DOT) physical.

At the January board meeting, MOAD Administrator Brian Opoka told the board that in conversation with a representative of the workers compensation office, it was suggested MOAD require the DOT physical for new hires and have staff get the physical annually. The reason, Opoka explained, it that there are different levels of medical disability. If an employee is injured and they then participate in a rehabilitation program, because of a medical disability, they may not be able to achieve 100 percent through rehab. If there is a claim, workers comp tries to get those injured back to 100 percent and it may not be possible. The physical is not required but it is suggested.

Board member Laura Stratman asked who would pay for the DOT physical. Opoka said if they decide to require the physical, it will cost about $1,820 a year. The DOT physical is more stringent and may be difficult for people who are on CPAP machines or are overweight. To get the DOT medical card, those getting the physical have to bring a complete list of their medications, including the dosage regimen and dosages. Opoka said persons who use a CPAP have to bring it with them to ensure they are wearing it the way they are supposed to. The card will be good for one year. A young person who is healthy can get a card to last two years. 

Opoka said the advantage of the physical to MOAD is it will help with the district’s workers compensation claims. The disadvantage is some of the district’s workers may not be able to pass the physical. Opoka said MOAD does not want big worker’s compensation claims and wants to know if its employees are taking their medication properly and are in good health. 

If all of the ambulance crew members get the DOT physical, it will cost $1,820 annually as the individual physical is $70 per person. Board member Victor Stratman said if MOAD is going to require it, then the district will have to pay for it. 

Board Vice President Steve Maxwell said he thinks it will help protect the district. Laura Stratman said it will help establish a baseline. Opoka said the board can choose to do “whatever we want.”

Office Manager Carla Butler said she’s heard other districts have their employees pay for the physical and when they receive the DOT medical card, they are reimbursed by the district. 

The board approved requiring the DOT physical and the district will pay for it. Opoka suggested all employees currently on the roster have the physical done by the end of the first quarter of the year. 

In other business at the MOAD Board’s January meeting:

• Opoka said last month there was the treat of bedbugs at the Freeburg base. They sprayed and found one dead bedbug and one alive bedbug. He said he thinks the district is okay.

• MOAD is acquiring COVID-19 kits from the Bureau of EMS. They contain sanitizer and testing kits. The tests are to test staff members and results are known within about 15 minutes. Opoka will put together a protocol for the testing. The people who administer the test will need training and any testing MOAD does has to be reported within a couple of days. Opoka said he’s in favor of this and thinks it might expand into the larger community.

Victor Stratman asked if people would come to the ambulance base to get tested for COVID-19 and Opoka said it is possible, as he’s “looking down the road.”  

Opoka said the tests are 94 percent accurate. He uses them at his other job and it works well for people who are symptomatic. There are a lot of false negative tests if people are tested too early. He doesn’t think it will cost anything to get a kit. However, the EMS Bureau will pick and choose and that’s why MOAD needs protocols about licensing and training. Opoka talked to two MOAD employees who are willing to be trained to give the tests. The kits have to be secured, there is identification on the kits and everything has to match and it must be well monitored. There is no cost and the training is a very simple process. 

The board gave its approval for the testing kits. 

• Long-time board member Wilma Stephen has resigned from the MOAD Board due to health reasons and a replacement is needed for Subdistrict 1, which is the Dry Creek area. Her term would have ended in 2022 so it would be a two-year term at the beginning.

• Board member Eileen Smith of Subdistrict 3 has filed for another term on the board. Victor Stratman said he planned to file for another term representing Subdistrict 6. 

• In the end of the year 2020 financial report, Opoka reported budgeted revenue of $671,500 and actual revenue of $707,167 for a positive variance of $35,667. Budgeted expenses were $671,500 and actual expenses were $683,188, for a negative variance of $11,688. Revenue over expenses was a positive $23,998.

• Opoka reported they had another worker’s compensation claim in December, a back injury. He should know in mid-January if MOAD received a grant through the Gary Sinise Foundation to purchase power cot lift systems for the ambulances. The grant request was for $57,000. 

• In the financial report, December income was $99,405.89 and expenses were $45,396.36 for a positive net income of $54,009.53.

Of the income $17,600.19 was Maries County taxes, $9,671.30 was Osage County taxes, $52,418.86 was from service fees, $19,690.48 was sales tax income, and $25.06 was interest income. 

Opoka commented about November’s negative net income of $13,000 saying it was because they missed a deposit by a couple of days because of the holidays. 

• Opoka reported response times for the month at an average of 7.8 minutes to get to the scene, 24 minutes on the scene, which he said it a little long because they had a couple of standbys, and average arrive time at the hospital with patient 43 minutes.

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