By Julie Ann Madden
Siouxland Paramedics Inc. personnel and city officials have been negotiating the termination of their Emergency Medical Services contract, which expires June 30.
Siouxland Paramedics Inc., which provides the Akron Ambulance Service, wanted a new “a la carte” contract with city officials paying per specific service, including crew members’ training, medical director services, and paramedic services, said Akron Mayor Harold Higman Jr., adding it was no longer cost effective for Siouxland Paramedics to operate under the present contract.
“When we added those a la carte service costs up, it was just too expensive,” said Higman. “We thought we could do better on our own.”
Siouxland Paramedics Inc. officials decided not to continue providing emergency medical services after June 30 without having a signed contract with city officials, he said. “With (our new EMS director), she brings in everything under our veil: recruitment, training, paramedic services and ambulance service management.”
“We feel in the long run we’re going to have a better ambulance service, and in all probability at less cost,” said Higman, adding city officials are looking at several cost-cutting measures including sharing the director with another community’s ambulance service. “That would further reduce our cost and still maintain the quality of ambulance service.”
“We’re putting together a good ambulance service for the community,” said Higman. “We want what’s best for our community and we’re striving to meet that goal.”
Having enough ambulance personnel has been a continual issue, and that is something on which city officials and the new EMS director will be working.
“There are a lot of good people here in Akron who have the time and expertise to pass the tests and come on board,” said Higman, explaining volunteers sign up for shifts to be available so it’s not a 24-hours-a-day job. Plus, volunteers do not need to have the medical training to help. They can be drivers, crew assistants and volunteer in a variety of ways.
“We have to make it a go,” said Higman. “It’s our community and people we need to take care of. One way or another it’s going to work.”
“We’re very positive about it at this time,” he said. “We have a great group of people to work with on the ambulance crew, and Shelly has a great history as a paramedic.”
“There is a plan in place,” Higman had told the council at their April 22 meeting.
Siouxland Paramedics Inc. will give the city the ambulances and the Hiring Committee is negotiating for the rest of the equipment.
For now, the Akron Ambulance Service will continue to be located in the Wilcox Electric building at 203 N. Fourth St. but other locations are being considered.
“We feel we should stay at the current location and gradually work into this new plan,” said Higman, noting it costs about $100,000 a year to operate the Akron Ambulance Service.
Siouxland Paramedics Inc.
In 1997, Siouxland Paramedics Inc. purchased the Akron Ambulance Service, and at the time, there were 10 Emergency Medical Technicians and five drivers, all living in Akron.
In 1999, a First Responder group was started in Westfield, consisting of 10 members with a response vehicle. The intention was to help Akron respond to calls south of Westfield to help improve response times. In 2003, this was discontinued due to staffing issues and the response vehicle was eliminated. The remaining Westfield members became a part of the Akron squad.
In the 2009-2010 school year, a First Responder class was held for Akron-Westfield students. In the Fall of 2012, the school district began offering Health Occupations courses as part of its vocational education program.
In 2012, the Akron squad responded to approximately 150 calls per year with 60 percent being for medical emergencies and 40 percent trauma calls. In 2013, they answered about 180 calls.
Currently, the Akron Ambulance Service team consists of:
• Drivers: Kyle Black, Brad Palmer, Bruce Small, Tony Tripp, Cory Wetrosky, Jenni Wetrosky, Lori Wetrosky,
Catie Gale and Perry Houts are still in orientation to be drivers.
• EMTs: Joe Hook, Josh Martinsen, Justin Heydon, Laci Coyle and Stephanie Hageman
• Medic: Ryan Morrison and
• Assistant: Brian Watts.
“The public can rest assured you’ll have good service,” said Higman, “and you should see no changeover except to make it better.”
Siouxland Paramedics Inc. will continue managing the service until July 1.