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By LeAnn R. Ralph
BOYCEVILLE — The Boyceville Community Ambulance District Board has downgraded the service from Advanced Emergency Medical Technician to EMT/Flex-Advanced EMT.
The board voted four “yes” to two “no” at the June 15 meeting to downgrade the service.
At the May meeting of the ambulance district board, Wayne Dow, director of the Boyceville ambulance service, had asked representatives for the district to go back to their town boards and the village board to discuss the possibility of downgrading the ambulance service.
With the ambulance service’s current staffing level, Dow said at the June 15 meeting that he did not foresee always being able to provide the advanced service that will be available under the flex-advanced designation.
The downgrade in the service means that if two Basic EMTs are on duty, they can take the ambulance out on a call and transport the patient, he said.
The two Basic EMTs would not be allowed to start an IV or to administer certain drugs to control nausea, could not give certain pain medications and could not give nitroglycerin, which is used to treat angina (chest pain) in people suffering coronary artery disease, Dow said.
With the flex designation for the ambulance service, however, if an Advanced EMT were on duty and there was a Basic EMT to go out on the ambulance run, then an IV could be started, and the drugs that a Basic EMT cannot administer could be administered, he said.
Downgrading would make the ambulance service more flexible and would allow the service to respond to more calls, Dow said.
While the board would have to vote to downgrade the service, Dow said board members did not have to act at the June 15 meeting and could take more time to think about it and discuss it with their board members and residents.
Peter Score, chair of the ambulance district board and representative from the Town of Sheridan, said the feedback he had received is that residents would be in favor of downgrading the service if it would help with staffing and would allow Boyceville to respond to more calls.
Boyceville still would be likely to have an Advanced EMT on duty much of the time, Dow said.
The Glenwood City, Dallas and Clear Lake ambulance services are all Basic EMT services, he noted.
Going to an EMT/Flex-Advanced EMT service “would help Boyceville not to be in a bind,” Dow said.
Several ambulance board members asked if it would be just as easy to switch back to an Advanced EMT service if the ambulance board decided that was in the best interests of district.
“It’s just as easy to go back to Advanced EMT,” Dow said.
Luke Montgomery, representative for the Village of Boyceville, said he was not comfortable voting to down-grade the ambulance service.
Sonya Zebro, village trustee, has been representing the village on the ambulance district board, and Montgomery said he would be more comfortable with Zebro making the decision.
Zebro did not attend the June 15 meeting.
Dow stressed that the ambulance district board did not have to make a decision at the June 15 meeting.
A motion to downgrade the Boyceville ambulance service from Advanced EMT to EMT/Flex-Advanced EMT was approved on a vote of four “yes” to two “no.”
Representatives for the Towns of Tiffany, Sherman, Stanton and Sheridan voted “yes” on the motion.
The Town of Hay River and the Village of Boyceville voted “no” on the motion.
The Town of New Haven did not have a representative at the June 15 meeting.
So far this year, Boyceville has had 126 calls, Dow said during his report to the ambulance district board.
Since the last meeting, Boyceville has had 28 calls, with 17 transports by Boyceville, three transports refused, four stand-by for fires, one stand-by for law enforcement, one transport by Glenwood City and two transports by Menomonie and Dallas, he said.
In May, there was one person on duty at the ambulance station 34.1 percent of the time, and there were two people on duty 57.5 percent of the time. Boyceville ambulance was “out of service” for 60 hours, Dow said.
So far this month, as of the June 15 meeting, one person has been on duty 42.9 percent of the time, and two people have been on duty for 57.1 percent of the time, he said.
The roster still has 13 people: one Emergency Medical Responder; seven EMTs; one Advanced EMT; and four paramedics, Dow said.
Two additional people are working on taking their tests for EMT certification, and two more people are enrolled currently in classes as of Monday, he said.
The Boyceville Ambulance Association gave two $500 scholarships to Boyceville High School graduates, Dow said.
Dow also noted that he is still talking with representatives for the Colfax ambulance service to see if there is a way to work together and to gain some efficiencies.
Chuck Siler, representative for the Town of Tiffany, said he had been asked why the meetings between Boyceville and Colfax pertaining to the ambulance service were not public meetings open to the public.
The meetings were held as a committee from the Boyceville ambulance board, so there was no quorum of the board, so there was no requirement for a public meeting, Score said.
Dow reported that he and Valerie Windsor, clerk-treasurer for the ambulance district, had reviewed the audit report from Clifton Larson Allen LLP.
One area of concern was the medical supplies budget, which had been over-budget by about $35,000.
Dow said he he had discovered that $16,500 in repairs to the ambulances (one was $6,500 for a deer strike) had been assigned to the medical supplies category.
During the reconciliation of the discrepancies, Dow said he and Windsor were able to account for all but about $80 of the $45,000 that been spent for medical supplies.
Dow told the ambulance district board that he plans to improve the budget so there are more line items and fewer categories where many different kinds of expenses are lumped together.
Score said several people had talked to him about the $27,500 that was paid to the two captains of the ambulance service to perform the chief’s job.
They wanted to know what the money had bought for the residents, and the answer was, the chief’s job, Score said.
Dow became the director of the ambulance service in 2021, and the budgeted amount for the director’s salary was $18,000. The budget for the director’s salary also is $18,000 in 2022, he said.
The residents who had talked to him about the salaries for the two captains pointed out that residents in the district are getting the chief’s job done for $9,500 less per year than in 2020, Score said.
For the residents, it’s good business — it’s a good use of their money, he said.
The residents were appreciative of the board that the interim chiefs’ salaries went from $27,500 down to $18,000 for a chief and were appreciative that Dow did not ask for more money this year, Score said.
The Boyceville ambulance service does not currently have any captains.
Dow has told the ambulance district board in the past that if he were to appoint captains, their salaries would come out of the budget for his salary so that he would receive less money.