2016-01-06 / Front Page

Former Miller County EMS Director Announces Retirement

by Randolph H. Wind, Cairo Messenger

Billy Rathel Billy Rathel Grady County Emergency Medical Service Director Billy Rathel announced on Christmas Eve his decision to retire from his post due to health issues.

Rathel is currently awaiting a suitable candidate for a heart transplant and has been unable to work fulltime since July.

“I didn’t want to retire this early, but I need a heart transplant and can’t serve in the role as I have in the past, so it’s time to retire,” Rathel said this week.

Rathel became the Grady EMS director in May 2007 after having served in a similar role in Miller County. He began his service with Miller County EMS in August 1995 and served as the EMS director there from 1990 until his hiring here in 2007.

Prior to going to work with Miller County EMS, Rathel worked as a licensed practical nurse and emergency medical technician with Miller County Hospital in Colquitt from May 1977 until August 1985, which was the date the ambulance service was taken over by the county.

“I have enjoyed working with the Grady County commissioners. They have been really good to me. I have also enjoyed serving the people of Grady County. My wife and I have made our home here, and we will continue to live here. This is our home now,” Rathel said.

Grady County Commission Chairman LaFaye Copeland said this week that Rathel will be missed.

“He did an excellent job for the county, and I hate it that he has to retire due to health reasons, but his health is the most important thing. I wish he could have come back to work, and we will miss him. I want to thank him for all the years and let him know that we will keep him in our prayers. He did a wonderful job,” Chairman Copeland said.

The retiring EMS director explained that he is a “1B” candidate on the heart transplant list, meaning he is able to function living at home with the aid of a heart pump that he wears continuously.

“A 1A candidate is a top priority candidate who must remain in the hospital to live and cannot function at home,” he commented.

Rathel is being treated by physicians at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. “I was going to Tallahassee, but they did all they could for me there and referred me on to Emory,” he said.

Now he is playing a waiting game until the call comes that a comparable candidate is identified. “They said it may be tomorrow, or it could be six months. We just don’t know,” Rathel said.

Rathel did get some good news last Tuesday during a visit to his doctors in Atlanta when they said it was permissible for him to drive locally now after six months of being on doctors’ orders not to operate a motorized vehicle.

“That was a relief,” he said.

According to Grady County Clerk Carrie Croy, the EMS is being managed by the three shift supervisors in the interim.

The vacancy will be advertised in the coming weeks, Mrs. Croy said. Grady County Administrator Carlos Tobar has been away on vacation since before Christmas and will not return to work until Jan. 6. The county clerk said that commissioners will discuss the vacancy at their Jan. 5 meeting.

As the EMS director, Rathel supervised 13 fulltime employees and seven part-time employees.

Rathel and his wife, Sandy, are active members of Cairo First United Methodist Church.

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