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Saturday, June 12, 2021

Retired Villages Public Safety captain among those to serve on ambulance committee

Five men were selected Tuesday by Sumter County commissioners to serve on a committee that will study options for improving ambulance services.

Those selected have firefighter, health care or emergency medical services experience. About 20 percent of the 64 qualified applicants were women.

Commissioners selected one member from each district: Members and commissioners who selected them are:

District 1: Richard Kleindienst (Commissioner Gary Search)
District 2: Leland Greek (Commissioner Doug Gilpin)
District 3: Gail Lazenby (Commissioner Craig Estep)
District 4: Jeffrey Bogue (County Chairman Garry Breeden)
District 5: David Bussone (Commissioner Oren Miller)

Kleindienst currently serves as assistant manager for Glenview Champions golf in The Villages, but is a former executive with the Yale New Haven Health System, worked as an emergency medical technician and has provided management consulting services to the Sumter County Health Department

Greek served as Sumter County fire chief from 2011 to 2018. Prior to that, as deputy chief, he supervised operations, administration and EMS services. He also spent a decade as a section chief with the City of Seminole Fire Rescue, where he was responsible for the EMS and training divisions, planning and budgeting.

Gail Lazenby

Lazenby is a retired captain with The Villages Fire Department and is credited with founding the community’s AED (Automatic External Defibrillator) volunteer program.

Bogue of Bushnell is a former paramedic and current director of EMS/Critical Care Transport at Advent Health/Wesley Chapel.

Bussone, a retired hospital chief executive and consultant, is a commander with Community Emergency Medical Response (CERT) and has written several columns for Villages-News.com about the recent local ambulance crisis.

The Ad Hoc Fire, EMS and Medical Transport Committee was formed last month to provide recommendations by October to commissioners on the future of Sumter County’s ambulance service.

Last month, County Administrator Bradley Arnold presented 10 ambulance service options that included continuing to use a private company, partnering with an academic entity like the University of Florida or consolidating EMS services with the county’s two fire departments. Commissioners decided to form the committee to study those options .

American Medical Response (AMR), a nationwide private company, currently provides ambulance services but has come under fire recently for long response times of up to an hour or more on some calls.

The Sumter County ambulance service, operated by American Medical Response, has faced heavy criticism due to lengthy response times.

Villager Winnie Lamb told commissioners that an ambulance took an hour to respond last weekend for a neighbor suffering breathing problems. During the Memorial Day weekend, AMR had to bring in staff from Davie, Fla., to cover for staff shortages.

Commissioners said they were very impressed with the quality of the committee applicants.

“I spent the last five days reading very wonderful resumes,” Search said. “To whittle it down is going to be a tremendous task of this board.”

He also encouraged applicants who were not selected for the committee to come to meetings and offer their expertise.

Miller said serving on the committee won’t be easy.

“It’s going to take a lot of work,” he said. “It’s going to be very intense. It’s going to be a daunting task.”

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