Compliments and Complaints

Compliments

To file a compliment or recognize one or more of our employees for providing exceptional service, contact Athens County EMS Headquarters by email at apyle@acems.org or by telephone at (740) 797-9560. Ask to speak with Assistant Chief Amber Pyle. You can send us regular post office mail at Athens County EMS, 36 N Plains Rd, The Plains OH 45780-2003. We always enjoy hearing positive comments and accolades about our EMTs and Paramedics!

Complaints

Athens County Emergency Medical Services is committed to providing quality emergency medical care to all individuals who live in, travel through, or visit our county. Our work impacts the quality of life in our community. To show our promise to fairness, all employees are required to uphold our department’s code of ethics, rules, policies, directives, and orders as well as all city, state, and federal laws that relate to their employment.

Introduction to the Complaint System

The citizen complaint system is designed to provide people with a way to express their concerns about EMS service. This system provides a fair, factual, and objective review of an individual’s concern.

How to File a Complaint

First, decide what you think the employee did wrong. For example, do you believe:

• An EMT or Paramedic was rude to you?
• The EMS response took too long?
• You received improper or sub-standard medical care from EMS?

All complaints should be filed within 30 calendar days of the incident, unless there are special circumstances. Complaints filed immediately improve the supervisor’s chance of gathering factual information.

To file a complaint, contact Athens County EMS by one of the following methods:

Telephone: Call (740) 797-9560 during business hours. Ask to speak to a supervisor regarding a complaint. If your complaint requires an immediate response to collect evidence or witness statements, a supervisor will be assigned to this detail as a priority.

In Person: You can file your complaint in person at EMS Headquarters. We are located at 36 North Plains Road in The Plains between 8:00 AM and 4:00 PM Monday through Friday, excluding government holidays. You can speak directly with a supervisor or complete a citizen complaint form.

Mail/Fax/Email: You can send a written complaint by mail, fax, or email. It is important to include your name, address, and phone number so we can contact you about your concerns.

Athens County EMS
36 N Plains Rd
The Plains OH  45780-2003
Fax: (740) 797-2961
Website: www.acems.org
Email: complaints@acems.org

Upon reviewing your complaint, the supervisor may be able to explain the employee’s actions to your satisfaction, or refer you to a supervisor who can. If this is the case, the matter will be closed. If your complaint needs to be investigated, it will be given to an investigator who will contact you within 72 hours. If you have not been contacted within 72 hours, please call (740) 797-9560 to make sure the investigator has your correct contact information.

Investigation of Your Complaint

The investigator will conduct a detailed investigation of the incident and gather statements from you and witnesses. Your assistance is expected and additional information may be needed.

If the accusation involves possible criminal actions, you will be referred to law enforcement. This does not stop the internal investigation within Athens County EMS, but issues involving possible criminal actions must be handled first. The criminal investigation will always be done by an appropriate law enforcement agency and/or the prosecuting attorney’s office. The outcome of the criminal investigation will direct the internal investigation done by Athens County EMS supervisors.

When the internal investigation by Athens County EMS is complete, the investigator will give a written report to the involved employee’s chain of command. Their recommendations will be reviewed by the Chief and Assistant Chief for a decision on the appropriate outcome.

Outcome of Your Complaint

You will receive a letter stating the outcome of your complaint. Please be aware that a detailed investigation and review of the facts can take time. You may not be notified about the final outcome for several weeks. If the complaint requires an extensive investigation, it may take even longer. The investigator will keep you informed of the status and advise you of any unusual delays. Most investigations are completed within 90 days after filing the complaint.

Outcome Findings

Your investigation will result in one of the following findings:

  • Sustained – The accusation is supported by a preponderance of the evidence. Depending on the severity of the action, a sustained finding may result in disciplinary action.
  • Not Sustained – There is not enough evidence to either prove or disprove the accusation.
  • Unfounded – The alleged conduct is refuted by a preponderance of the evidence.
  • Exonerated – The accusation is true, but the action taken by the employee was legal and
    appropriate for the situation.
  • Policy/Procedure – The accusation was clearly about the proper use of an approved
    Division policy, or by lawful order from a supervisor.
  • Cancelled for Cause – The alleged misconduct could not have occurred or the person named in the complaint is not an Athens County EMS employee, or the complainant is identified as a chronic complainer or appears to have a mental deficiency and fails to provide any credible or plausible evidence of misconduct warranting further investigation.
  • Unable to Resolve – There is not enough information to complete an investigation.
  • Not Investigated – The allegation was received from an anonymous source and does not contain corroborative evidence nor can corroborative evidence be reasonably obtained. (or) The allegation was received more than 60 days after the alleged incident, is not potentially criminal in nature, or is not serious misconduct that could result in termination.
  • Withdrawn – The complainant retracted the allegation(s) through either a verbal or written statement.

Appealing the Outcome of Your Complaint

If you are not satisfied with the decision regarding your complaint, you may file an appeal by contacting the Athens County EMS Chief. Contact must be made within 14 days of receiving the outcome letter. The letter will contain the necessary contact information to file an appeal. Your appeal should describe any further information you have that may change the EMS Chief’s decision.

Unfounded and False Complaints

Athens County EMS is committed to investigating concerns of employee misconduct. With that said, EMTs and Paramedics can be targets of unfounded complaints by people who misunderstand how our employees are trained to operate at the scene of an emergency call. There are also situations that are beyond the control of our EMS crews that may provoke a complaint, such as high water, heavy snow, or a downed tree that prevents rapid response to a 911 call. In situations where our employees followed department policy and medical protocol, or worked through a series of problems that were out of their control to provide emergency medical service, we will attempt to educate you on why something did or did not happen as you expected.

A very small number of complaints have been received, investigated, and proven false. In these situations the embellished complaint may have been a thinly-veiled attempt to have EMS billing charges waived, or it was part of a divorce or child custody matter where the grievant thought a workplace complaint could produce a positive outcome at their next court hearing.

A maliciously false complaint may be grounds for criminal and/or civil legal action. We have a responsibility to inform you that legal redress does exist and that when appropriate, a charge may be filed against those who maliciously file false complaints against Athens County EMS employees. It is expensive and time consuming to investigate maliciously false complaints, and these false complaints can affect an employee’s motivation and sense of well-being on and off the job. Legitimate complaints or concerns are a priority with our management team and they will be investigated fairly and in a timely manner.  We do reserve the right to pursue charges against anyone who files a maliciously false complaint.