Wright County Moving Forward with EMS Planning

  After a successful countywide special election for a voter approved property tax levy to fund
EMS last August, the Wright County Board of Supervisors continue to move forward with their
plan of making EMS an essential service in Wright County.
On Monday, April 8th the Board heard from members of the Wright County EMS System
Advisory Council who presented the Board with the Wright County EMS System Standards.
Following discussion and review of the document, the Board unanimously approved and adopted
the document.
The Board of Supervisors appointed the EMS System Advisory Council in August 2017 after
declaring EMS an essential service in Wright County. The Advisory Council was tasked to
develop a plan for countywide, coordinated EMS effort to improve both financial and staffing
issues facing the services providing care in Wright County. The plan proposed by the Advisory
Council included the countywide special election held last August where taxpayers voted to
increase their property taxes to provide funds specifically designated for EMS.
“It’s no secret, the EMS System is broken, not just in Wright County, but across the state,”
explained Wright County Emergency Management Coordinator Jim Lester, who is the
chairperson of the EMS System Advisory Council. “We started this process several years ago
and these EMS System Standards are another step of the process and positions us to be ready to
hit the ground running with the new system beginning July 1st.”
The Wright County EMS System Standards were developed in cooperation with the EMS
Services in Wright County based on the 2017 Iowa EMS System Standards. The Standards
outline the organization and delivery of EMS in Wright County and is a collaborative initiative
between the EMS Services in the county to provide a consistent and accountable approach to
promoting and protecting the health of Wright County citizens. The goal of the Standards is to
provide an integrated, measurable and sustainable EMS System through the working
relationships of EMS providers and EMS Services providing care in Wright County.
“Because Wright County invested time to educate EMS providers and elected officials on the
benefits of EMS System Standards you have the distinction of being the first county to recognize
and establish EMS as an essential service in Iowa,” said Merrill Meese, an EMS Technical
Assistance Coordinator with the Iowa Department of Public Health’s Bureau of Emergency and
Trauma Services. Meese has been working with the Advisory Council throughout this process
and was on hand Monday morning as the Supervisors adopted the Standards.
Board of Supervisor Karl Helgeveld, who represents the Board on the Advisory Council said,
“The System Standards are another piece of the overall larger picture in improving the EMS
System. We wanted to make sure the ambulance services maintained their independence while at
the same time, establishing some countywide standards and this document does that. A big thank
you to the citizens of the county who stepped up in August and verified their support by
approving the special funding levy for EMS.”
“We are so grateful to be a part of this collaborative effort to enhance the EMS services in our
county, said Amy McDaniel, CEO at Iowa Specialty Hospital-Belmond. “We are thankful to the
Board of Supervisors for all of their support and to the other agencies for their vision and
cooperation. Together we will accomplish great things for the residents of Wright County. “
Mayors Sandra McGrath from Eagle Grove and Duane Asbe of Clarion were also in attendance
on Monday and both echoed their appreciation and support to those involved in the process of
working together in providing for quality ambulance response to all areas of Wright County.
The Advisory Council will work with the individual ambulance services and the Board of
Supervisors in the next few weeks to finalize formal agreements for the distribution of the
$586,652 being generated with the special EMS levy that goes in to effect on July 1.