Washington County BOS hear recommendation from ambulance committee

WASHINGTON — The newly established ambulance committee presented its recommendations to the Washington County Boad of Supervisors Tuesday morning regarding medical emergency services coverage moving forward.

Ryan Schlabaugh, city administrator of Kalona and member of the committee, spoke on its behalf to recommend the county establish an EMS department. In a letter sent to the county, the committee also recommended the creation of a working budget, a 3-5 year capital plan and collaboration with local entities.

According to the letter, the working budget would cover everything from ambulance inventory to maintenance to salary and benefits. The capital plan would be put in place to help the committee find a way to use cash flow to fund the service instead of having to defer to a referendum. The collaboration with local entities would include neighboring counties and the Washington County Hospital and Clinics to look into the possible creation of a 28E agreement for the long term.

Schlabaugh said the committee also recommended the hiring of an ambulance director. He said the job description has been approved and the committee would like the board to approve the publishing of the available position at the next meeting with the goal of having the new director hired in early 2020.

Public outreach and the creation of a long term ambulance management department were also part of the recommendation. He said the committee agreed the goal is maintain the same level of service the county is currently used to and feels that through establishing these recommendations, it will be one step closer.

Schlabaugh said there is no easy way to move forward with creating the service but that the committee feels a county run service will be the best option. Supervisor Bob Yoder agreed, saying he felt it was “almost impossible” for a private company to come in and that a county run option seemed to be the best fit.

Supervisor Richard Young agreed, saying he felt the recommendations were a positive step forward in the process to preserving ambulance services in the county and were in the best interest of citizens.

“We can get providers in here from the east coast or wherever but are they going to be dedicated to Washington County? That’s the thing we have to look at,” he said. “I think what they put in front of us is a very good thing.”