The Vilas County ad hoc EMS committee reviewed feedback from local municipalities gauging support for the implementation of locations for fly cars proposed as part of the committee’s task to address a growing need for available advanced life support (ALS) services in the Northwoods.
Feedback from the municipalities members of the committee met with was compiled in an informal report presented to the committee.
“I’d like to see this committee make a report, a final report, on what has been taking place over the last year and a half, or even a little bit more, so we keep the process moving to fruition,” committee chair Marv Anderson said.
The committee intends to meet once more to finalize a recommendation to bring to the county board at the board meeting Nov. 12.
Anderson clarified the recommendation wouldn’t be for or against the proposed plan, but rather a recommendation as to what the committee would like the board to consider.
Though many municipalities agreed there was a “real need” for additional ALS services in Vilas County, several were apprehensive or opposed to an increase in the tax levy.
“I found, in a lot of cases, people were asking me questions, which would be answered in a specific plan,” committee member Chuck Hayes said. “Exactly where is it going to be, exactly who are these people going to be, and we’re not at that point yet.”
Hayes said he found, in some cases, some municipalities were supportive, but wanted more details the committee didn’t have.
Overall, Hayes felt people weren’t “on the fence” so much as they wanted details on how the plan would affect them and their community before signing on their approval.
“Three issues that came to me from the very start of this and it’s snowballing now, is the fact that everybody wants the services as long as there’s no additional cost to them, and everybody also wants to keep the service that they have because they believe that the service that they have is working,” committee member Jerry Burkett said. “And they really are not in favor of having the county control their ambulance service, when the one that they have is working exactly the way that they want.”
Burkett also said there was a concern among the communities that control of that service would slip to a bigger governmental body, such as the county, which, in their opinion, might not be as efficient as the current service.
In the three communities he had met with, Hayes said there was a concern access to ALS services was not as effective as it could be, because it was being called for more times than necessary, thus preventing other communities from accessing that resource when they needed it.
Anderson said he had highlighted responses in the feedback as he felt it was important to understand the responses, including those that were adamantly opposed, as well as others.
Not for some time
Burkett reminded the committee, as well as members of the public, that the 2020 budget that had been approved earlier that morning, was fixed, and that nothing would take place for a “minimum of 12-plus months.”
“This (committee) will be making strictly recommendations and has many, many hurdles to go through on the county-wide basis before anything would be done, if anything,” he said.
Anderson then referred to a community response that indicated the municipality was not in favor of an additional property tax, but that they also believed the county “should either go all in to provide EMS services as a whole, or no additional methodology.”
Anderson noted several of the municipalities had made similar notions.
“We’re trying to answer this question that came to us from to start with. What can the county do enhance ALS?or paramedic service in the county. Not take over this or do something that is significantly different than that comparatively simple, I should say straightforward, question,” Anderson said.
“I think that this concept is wonderful, but I?think that the implementation of this concept throughout the various townships may be very, very difficult,” Burkett said.
Burkett said he admired the need for the initiative in some areas, but he didn’t know how the implementation would take place.
“I think that this is something that, five or six years from now, we can try it back out, but I don’t think that we’re going to succeed at this time,” Burkett said.
Kayla Houp may be reached via email at [email protected]