Area ambulance services are considering the idea of becoming an essential service which would mean that they would fall under their county umbrella with funding and possible employment. For some services, this is not coming without resistance.
In Hancock County, the two ambulance services of Garner and West Hancock met to set aside some lingering issues and work closer together. Among some of the issues discussed had to do with response times, communication issues between the two organizations, staffing shortages, and call cancellations.
Both organizations are reaching out to the community for potential EMS and paramedic candidates for training. They are also looking for qualified drivers to allow for EMS and paramedic workers to focus on the transporting of the patient. Currently, both groups offer full tuition assistance to go to NIACC or DMACC for education and certification.
Hancock and Winnebago County Emergency Manager Andy Buffington believes that the meeting was productive and a good start.
Brian Roberts with the Garner Ambulance Service agrees.
One of the major issues with EMS programs across the state has to do with funding. This is why many area counties are switching to becoming an essential service so that they may receive funding from their respective counties in order to pay many of the volunteers who work with them. Hancock County appears on the surface not to be one of those counties according to Buffington.
Roberts believes that the focus should be on more cooperation between the two services. This will rely heavily on communication and coordination of emergency calls where both departments don’t end up responding to a single call.
The two departments will meet again to further outline areas of improvement in order to serve Hancock County more efficiently and effectively.