To the editor:

Exciting news to share with you today!

Our ambulance service under Dick Isley has been working very hard this past year to put together a package to upgrade our services from EMTs to paramedic. He has prepared and submitted the application to do this to the State of Wisconsin under the direction of the Kiel City Council. Dick has negotiated to provide a medical director (doctor), protocols for paramedics to operate under and free ongoing education. This is a huge asset.

In conjunction with our Police and Fire/Ambulance Committee we have worked to put in place a budget. Alderperson Jeremy Fromm has been indispensable in overseeing the numbers and providing input on how to make this work. In doing so we may realize a deficit this first year of service due to lag in payments from insurance and staffing increases and an initial investment in medications and equipment paramedics are allowed to use. Chief Isley, Fire Chief Hennings and Administrator Aulik have been presenting our anticipated upgrade with neighboring communities. If the ambulance service can add another 100-plus calls it is not expected to create a deficit at all. This is a very realistic goal and has been well received by our neighbors.

Upgrading to paramedic level has become a priority for several reasons: We currently have paramedics working our ambulance who see what benefits they could provide if we upgrade. It is indeed frustrating to know what to do but be unable to do it due to licensure issues. Currently we need to call for a paramedic intercept for critical patients. This can take up to 30 minutes to accomplish—precious time when someone needs those services. In emergency medicine there is the “golden hour,” the time that a patient’s chance of surviving with function to the injured area are significantly better with medical interventions initiated. Time is life in emergency medicine, so this is a second important benefit to our citizens. A third important, if unknown reason, is the benefit to our citizens and industries in reduced insurance costs from rapid response times. If you are unaware, our fire and ambulance services have one of the fastest response times in the state of Wisconsin. Kudos!

Lastly, medicine has progressed and if we remain an EMT level service we risk becoming outdated. The other option we would have to provide services of paramedic level would be to contract with an outside provider. This is extremely costly. Currently citizens of Kiel pay $3.25 per capita to support our ambulance services. Other surrounding communities are paying up to $20 per capita to maintain their services. Contract services would provide us with one ambulance (we currently have two and have staff available if a second call or ambulance is needed), rotating unfamiliar staff and an estimated $800,000 per year cost for this level of service. Keeping our local staff benefits our citizens with familiar faces in a critical situation as well as a much better knowledge of the addresses/places to respond to. If needed, support equipment such as the jaws of life, fire department backup and off-street vehicles to transport paramedics to the scene are rapidly available.

These changes are truly a wonderful thing, and with the staff we have managing the budget, the savings are indeed huge. Please recognize what an outstanding job these people have done and support their efforts.

 

Kathy Schuette

4th District alderperson, Kiel

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