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EMS changes directors; Martin to retire

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Before Bandera County EMS Director Cindy Martin seriously contemplated retiring, she wanted to make sure the agency that she had spent so much building would be left in capable hands. As a result, during the regular meeting on Thursday, July 10, county commissioners will purportedly appoint Calvin Plummer to Martin's position. Plummer currently serves as EMS assistant director,
In fact, after learning about Martin's retirement plans, commissioners wanted to give Plummer the top spot during the June 26 meeting. However, due to the wording of the agenda item, County Attorney Janna Lindig advised the court to postpone the appointment until the next regularly scheduled meeting.
As Judge Richard Evans explained, commissioners had two options, "... hiring and promoting from within (the organization) or posting the position and conducting interviews. It's totally up to (the court)."
Precinct 2 Commissioner Bobby Harris bluntly asked Plummer if he was interested in taking over the EMS reins. Answering in the affirmative, Plummer added, "I've been working here for 12 years and have a lot invested in this program." He also felt he could bring different skills to the agency.
Because Plummer also works fulltime as a nurse flying on AirLife out of San Antonio, Precinct 4 Commissioner Doug King asked Plummer if he felt he would be spread too thin.
Referring to his EMS colleagues, Plummer replied, "We all work two or three jobs. That's what life is and what vacations are for."
After noting that Plummer already understands the operation and time involved in the program, Precinct 1 Commissioner Bob Grimes, who works closely with EMS, felt he would be excellent as the permanent EMS director - subject to finalizing a work schedule approved by the court.
"You've worked very closely with Cindy," Evans said. "She has confidence in you and I have confidence in Cindy." Just minutes before, the court had accepted Martin's resignation - albeit reluctantly.
"There's been a lot of changes in the EMS since I began volunteering," Plummer said. "I'll have big shoes to fill. I'm sad to see Cindy retire. I really learned a lot from her."
Originally a Sooner, Plummer graduated from nursing school in Amarillo in 1993. After signing on with a traveling nurse program, he spent several years shuffling back and forth from hospitals in Las Vegas, Nevada and San Antonio.
As Plummer explained, traveling nurses work at hospitals across the United States that are understaffed. "We had have a 13-week contract with renewal options or we could choose to go somewhere else," he said during an interview on Thursday, July 3. "When I joined the traveling nurse program, I drove to Vegas with a mounted deer head and a TV and that was it," Plummer recalled.
In San Antonio, he first worked in the Intensive Care Unit at Metropolitan Hospital, which is part of the Methodist Healthcare System, but eventually transferred to emergency room nursing at University Hospital.
The move readied Plummer for his next adventure. After six years nursing experience, he became eligible to apply for a position with an air med company, which led him to becoming a part of the EMS system.
"Because nurses have reciprocity into a paramedic position, I'm what you'd call a 'paper medic'," Plummer said. "I began volunteering with Bandera County EMS in 2002 after meeting a co-worker through AirLife."
Coincidentally - or perhaps not - that was the same year Plummer and his wife, Carol, began building their house in Bandera County. "Once we decided to stay in the San Antonio area, we looked all over, including Spring Branch and Bulverde," he said. "One day we were on Highway 90 making a loop from Hondo when we stopped in Bandera. Vickie Browning showed us 11½ acres and we bought it immediately. We didn't have to look any farther. I love it here and hope never to live in a city again." The couple has a daughter.
As the new EMS director, Plummer doesn't plan to institute major changes in the program. "I want to ensure that we continue to provide the highest quality of care to the citizens of this county," he said. However, he'll work to eliminate unnecessary movement of EMS units - saving both money and time.
"Currently, when a call comes in for an unresponsive patient, three units cover that call," Plummer said. "Then other emergencies must wait for a back-up team to respond. It would be more efficient to send a supervisor on priority calls rather than two other units to eliminate delays in getting to any patient."
Plummer will supervise 35 full and part-time EMS personnel, including basic, intermediate and paramedics, as well as two nurses. Clearly looking forward to his new position, Plummer offered, "This is going to be very exciting. All of us will continue to do what's best for the residents - and all the tourists - in the county."