07/27/06 — Duplin will have two EMS openings

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Duplin will have two EMS openings

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on July 27, 2006 1:48 PM

KENANSVILLE -- Beginning Aug. 4, the Duplin County Emergency Medical Service will have another vacancy to fill.

Assistant Director and Training Officer Jeremy Hill resigned last week to take a position with the state EMS office, Duplin officials said. Hill, who has been with the county since 2004, will be a specialist for the eastern region of the state.

News of Hill's impending departure came the day before Duplin District Attorney Dewey Hudson announced that former EMS director Curtis Brock, and Barbara Coman, an employee who worked with Brock, were charged with illegally accessing the Johnston Ambulance Service computer network and computer trespassing -- both misdemeanors.

The charges came after an investigation by the State Bureau of Investigation that revealed that Ms. Coman, a former Johnston Ambulance employee, allegedly helped Brock gain access to computer files maintained by her former company. At the time, county commissioners were considering allowing Duplin EMS to begin non-emergency transports, which are currently handled by private ambulance carriers.

Brock and Duplin commissioner Larry Howard were also captured on tape during a telephone conversation recorded by Dr. Thomas Hunter, the owner of Coastline Care, another ambulance carrier. Investigators said during that conversation, Brock and Howard asked for help from Coastline to force Johnston out of the county.

Hudson said that since the effort was unsuccessful, no criminal charges could be filed.

Johnston Ambulance officials have not said yet whether they will pursue civil charges against Duplin County.

County Manager Mike Aldridge said Hill's departure did not have anything to do with the current Duplin EMS scandal, rather, it was a career opportunity he could not pass up. County officials said despite the new vacancy, EMS services will not slow down, and they hope to fill both the director and training officer positions as quickly as possible.

"EMS goes on 24/7, 365," Aldridge said. "And now, we've got not only the director position but also the training position left vacant. We're certainly trying to fill those."

But until they are filled, Emergency Services Director Craig Forlines will take on the additional work, officials said. Since Brock's resignation, Forlines has been filling the role of EMS director, and once Hill leaves, he will likely take on much of the training officer role as well.

Once a new director and assistant are hired, they will still answer to Forlines, EMS employee Peggy Davis said.

"Craig will be overseeing it," she said. "Whoever we hire will be answering to him."