EMS Director to County: Six More Paramedics Needed

In his first State of Door County Emergency Services Report, Emergency Services Director Dan Williams recommends, “an immediate addition to the 2015 Budget for the hiring of six full-time paramedics to be added to the Sturgeon Bay station.”

In his June 12 report to the county’s Emergency Services Committee, Williams wrote, “The current staffing arrangement is no longer adequate to meet the needs of the continuing rise in call volume throughout the county. Door County has a year-round population of approximately 30,000 people. From May through the end of October the number of people in the County can be more than 200,000 on any given day.”

He went on to say that the call volume has risen 32 percent since 2000 with no increase in personnel.

“This trend is expected to continue with the aging population and the impact of the Affordable Care Act,” Williams wrote. “It is a known fact that fewer individuals have a primary care physician and their entry to the health care system is when they call 9-1-1 and come through the emergency department. One of the major concerns that I have is the inability of the department to manage all 9-1-1 calls in a timely manner when a unit is already out on a call, which occurs county wide. This situation is happening on a more frequent basis and is of particular concern at the Sturgeon Bay station where eight to 10 times per week a simultaneous call is received and the call is either not answered at all or is significantly delayed.”

The annual cost for six more paramedics would be $500,000, but as Williams pointed out in the report, “This inability to meet the need may put the county in a legal quandary.”

Williams, who had served as Door County’s emergency services director in the 1980s before going on to serve as chief of emergency medical services for the State of Wisconsin and program director for the University of Wisconsin’s Med Flight program, was hired in February to lead a county Emergency Services Department that, according to his own report, was floundering due to a lack of communication between management and staff and inadequate departmental policies and procedures.

“The DCES (Door County Emergency Services) management team did not function as a true team,” Williams wrote. “The DCES management staff all seemed to work independently and sometimes out of sync with others in the Department…”

Williams also found that prior to his arrival, “the process of dealing with personnel issues was being managed in an unprofessional manner. Depending on the individual and circumstances, discipline or lack thereof was dependent on which staff was involved.”

Williams also recommended that “a Health and Safety Committee be developed that will establish a written health and fitness program for the Department. Annual physicals should be part of the health and fitness program.”