A special Vilas County committee called to determine needs in paramedic services held its first meeting in St. Germain last Tuesday (Feb. 5) and discussed how to gather information and draft possible solutions to increase paramedic availability in county municipalities.
Chairman Marv Anderson indicated they were not formed to have the county take over paramedic services but to look at response times and determine areas of life support voids.
“It's paramedics that are needed that can reduce response times to an incident site rather than transporting persons to Eagle River hospital or Howard Young that can add up to 45 minutes for treatment,” Anderson said.
Vilas Emergency Government director Jim Galloway indicated presently 10 of 15 municipalities have ambulance with basic life support services while five – towns of Arbor Vitae, Washington, Lincoln, Cloverland, and city of Eagle River – contract for paramedic services.
The committee discussed the possibility of having two “fly car” sites staffed 24/7 that could enhance service without disenfrancising existing local service. Such a proposal was estimated to cost $1.5 million via the county tax levy with medical staff that would hire, equip, and train up to four persons per site.
The committee agreed to gather information and meet with county fire chiefs March 20 for their input on having paramedics closer to their communities, challenges in recruitment and retention, current staffing shortages, and if the county could help in recruitment and retention.