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Winnebago County Ponders Unifying EMS Services

One of the major issues facing city and county governments is what to do about the dwindling number of Emergency Medical Service personnel. Volunteers are becoming harder to come by and as a result, Winnebago County is now considering the idea of placing all the EMS locations in one county.

Winnebago County Supervisor Terry Durby has had conversations with area emergency service personnel and stated that there is still a lot of work to do.

Durby admits that the county officials need to explore all avenues in order to rectify part if not the entire situation. He also admits that this process may come at a cost to residents in the county.

The mechanisms for funding EMS in Iowa are defined in Chapter 422B of the state codes. It sets the parameters that counties and cities must operate under in order to accomplish the goal by Winnebago County in funding a county-wide EMS program.

Winnebago and Hancock County Emergency Management Coordinator Andy Buffington explained that there are a number of steps before any levy can be assessed on properties in the county.

The levy process is one way to attack the funding needs of the county when supporting a county-wide EMS service. The Winnebago County Board of Supervisors have still more approaches to take under Chapter 422D of the codes according to Buffington.

Currently, several EMS volunteer workers are putting several hours above what they would normally do because of the lack of staffing. This comes at all three locations in Winnebago County such as Forest City, Lake Mills, and Buffalo Center. The cities have offered training of any interested individual wanting to get into EMS or paramedic work. Those who would be interested need to contact their respective city halls to get more information on the program.


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