Aspirus proposes ambulance consolidation, control shifted to Wausau
Taylor County EMS proposed three recommendations to members of the county’s law enforcement and emergency services committee on Friday.
The county’s ambulance service is having trouble with response times, covering shifts, and meeting the needs of the county. Jason Keffeler, Director, System Medevac & Trauma, and John Deal, manager of Taylor County Ambulance presented a new Ambulance Service Contract. The contract change would shift operational control from Aspirus Medford Hospital to Aspirus Wausau Hospital— MEDEVAC. “Changing this contract places Aspirus Patient Transportation under one entity,” Keffeler said.
According to Keffeler, the new contract will help with consistency of transportation services, improvement of billing and collections, and allows opportunity for shared human resources.
The second recommendation would be to consolidate ambulance services to one license. This would mean merging Medford, Gilman, Rib Lake, and Taylor County Ambulance into a single entity to make it “Taylor County Emergency Medical Services.”
“Each entity is licensed by the state, if they were all one entity, then they would be licensed by the county,” Keffeler said.
“I can’t have a provider that is assigned to Medford, work in Gilman or Rib Lake without having a separate credential signed by myself and the medical director, three different times to get services covered, I can’t share personnel until services are covered. To renew licenses, it’s three separate applications and three separate operational plans. It makes three times the work, especially with the state,” Deal said.
Committee chairman Lester Lewis asked Keffeler and Deal “What are you doing to get more volunteers? How are you trying?”
“We are recruiting some high school students by getting them more involved in the area. Local fire department volunteers are interested in coming over and helping with EMS as well. We are offering EMS incentive, which means we cover the cost of them going to school, granted they give us two years of service in return. We’ve added a $5,000 sign-on bonuses after 30 days. We are recruiting by word of mouth mostly. In the past three months we have recruited 6 new driver positions and 3 new EMTs to the service, they are all volunteers,” replied Deal.
“This will cost the county an estimated $7,000. How does the county recoup back the $7,000?” asked committee member Ray Soper.
“This money can’t only be spent for equipment and training and education purposes. We haven’t had people go through the training and education, so the money hasn’t been spent. Although it has been spent on equipment. We also know we can gain some of our funding back through consolidating,” Keffeler said.
The proposed changes with go to . In other business, committee members: Doris Keefer presented a new contract between the county and Taylor County Humane Society. The three year contract includes a percentage increase annually. The Finance Committee will look over the agreement and make a decision.
Individuals were recognized by the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office for their life saving help that they provided during the Amish buggy crash on November 24, 2021. The people who were recognized were Rachael Schuette, Abigail Reis, Michael Martines, Jesse Gruny and Haleigh Anding.
Mike Filas spoke on behalf of the Medford Fire Department regarding new portable radio equipment and seeking county help in upgrading the units.
“The majority of our radios are between 15-20 years old. They are no longer supported from an improvement standpoint, it is getting harder to find replacement parts for them, we have parts for about 70% of our radios right now. We have radios that are 20+ years old, we use those as portable radios on our trucks,” said fire chief Mike Filas.
The total cost for this update would be $71,661.58.
Another upgrade that was presented was to replace the two radios in the water tower that act as a third-level dispatch, in case there are problems with dispatch in the fire tower. Those radios were installed with the narrow band transition. Currently, the Kenwood models are in place, that have been less than reliable in recent years. The interface to these radios is currently an analog adjustment to get to the radios out in the tower. The only way to make them work if the radios go out, is to power down the radios on the water tower, and power them back up. A quote was presented from Motorola Solutions to replace to the two radios in the water tower. It is estimated to cost $26,077.90. This would give the department new radio heads in dispatch that would give them the capability of switching zones, doing page outs from there if the paging system goes down.
This will be presented again at the finance committee meeting.
Sheriff Larry Woebbeking reported there are 41 total inmates at the Taylor County Jail. Nineteen of those inmates are from Marathon County, the rest are from Taylor County.