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Day-to-day operations keep EMS' Mainer busy
Terry Mainer
New Effingham County EMS Operations Director Terry Mainer works to keep ambulances running and makes sure they are fully stocked with equipment and supplies. He is also responsible for scheduling. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff

SPRINGFIELD — Terry Mainer’s hands don’t tend to patients as much as they used to but they are probably busier than ever.

Mainer succeeded Bob Summers as the operations manager of Effingham County EMS at the start of the year. Summers retired in December 2021 after serving the agency for 25 years.

“We never had an operations manager until Bob came in,” Effingham County EMS Director Wanda McDuffie said. “It was something that we kind of created from dirt.”

Mainer, who joined Effingham County EMS in 2015 and has 28 years of EMS experience overall, shadowed Summers during his final two weeks so that he could learn the ins and outs of his new job.

“Basically, it’s handling the day-to-day operations — fleet maintenance, scheduling, equipment and supplies,” Mainer said. “Keeping the ambulances running is almost a full-time job. There’s no such thing as putting it on cruise control.

“That doesn’t happen. There is always monkey wrenches being thrown in there and you have to be able to adapt.”

Most Effingham County EMS ambulances rack up more than 50,000 miles a year. It has 11 to keep ready 100 percent of the time. The oldest one is a 2013 model with 300,000 miles.

“It’s more of a backup,” McDuffie said.

Effingham County EMS expects to receive three new ambulances in January 2023, more than a year after they were ordered.

“That would give us five fairly new trucks,” McDuffie said. “In the budget, I’ve asked for two more to try to keep a two-year rotation. Every two years, we’d like to get two new trucks.”

“Ambulances are our lifeblood,” Mainer said. “Without them, there is no EMS.”

Ambulances aren’t the only things that are tough to get these days. 

“Getting supplies in has been challenging,” Mainer said. “Sometimes we’ve had to change supplies because we can’t get our regular stuff or they’ve doubled the price on it. That makes it very hard to justify buying any more even if you don’t want to change.

“You just have to adapt to it.”

Mainer is proud of Effingham County EMS’ reputation for quality service amid all its challenges.

“We really strive for that,” he said.