The Winnebago Emergency Medical Services Advisory Board appointed by the Winnebago County Board of Supervisors met on Wednesday night to vote on a proposal which would potentially staff Emergency Medical Services in the county and provide better service. This proposal had been arrived at two weeks ago and in that meeting, Hancock and Winnebago County Emergency Services Manager Andy Buffington began by explaining all three services met with him and they had come up with a plan. This plan addressed a 24-7 Assisted Life Support (ALS) county wide response made up of four personnel. Medics will be auto dispatched for any EMS call in Winnebago County.
The cost for the plan with be $320,000 for personnel, $20,000 for vehicle replacement and equipment and $10,000 for County-wide EMS training. Plus, an additional $35,000 per service for personnel, training and/or equipment. There was also a request for a 4% increase in the $320,000 personnel cost each year.
The levy request is $0.75 per $1,000 of valuation for a minimum of 10 years with 15 years being the preference. The excess amount will be held in the Emergency Medical Services Trust Fund for anticipated future wage, insurance and other increases.
In the Wednesday night meeting, Winnebago Supervisor Bill Jensvold felt that some Winnebago County cities would bear an unequal amount in paying for the services with this plan. He felt that out of 10,474 residents, Forest City should pay the most because they have 38% of the population or 3,297 residents.
Lake Mills has 21% of the population in the county with 2,151 residents. By contrast, 23% of the population, or 2,410 are in rural areas. The rest of the cities were in the single digits in percentage population.
The benefits of the competing plans are a 24-hour service, built in funding for vehicles and equipment, centralized training budget, greater opportunity for revenue, local services able to increase pager pay and call pay to attract and retain members, and centralized supply. Currently the three ambulatories in Buffalo Center, Lake Mills, and Forest City are understaffed. Some more than others, but Jensvold believes that these contracted ambulance companies need to be reimbursed equitably between cities in the county in relation to their population.
Jensvold is concerned about response times throughout the county because he feels, as does virtually everyone on the advisory board that it is vital that the services improve in that area which may mean centralizing a portion of the staff.
The board will review the two proposals and discuss funding options before meeting again later this month.