City of Clearwater and surrounding residents,
As you might have read on the City Website or through the local newspaper, the City has been reviewing major changes with the EMS service and what the future of Clearwater EMS will look like. Below is a brief overview.
State requirements to maintain an ambulance permit:
- Maintain a 24 hour/day, 7 day/week, 365 day/year duty roster
- Must have two certified personnel signed up on the duty roster showing 24/7/365 coverage
- The personnel signed up must respond if a call is received
- State requirements apply regardless of paid or volunteer service or how large or small the community
- During 2017 annual Kansas Board of EMS audit Clearwater received a warning for not having a complete duty roster
- In 2018 the same discrepancy was found, and the State began an investigation to determine if Clearwater EMS is following the guidelines set by the State for carrying a transport license.
- Due to full time careers and responsibilities, volunteers are not signing up on the duty roster to show 24/7/365 coverage
- With our dedicated volunteers most calls have two certified personnel respond, but this still fails to meet the requirement to have a completed roster
In December, the City Administrator, our acting Director of EMS, and myself appeared before the state board in Topeka. We presented a temporary plan where Sedgwick County, Mulvane, or Conway Springs provide auto aid with Clearwater depending on where the call originates. This temporary plan was accepted by the State for up to 90 days. We are still required to meet all requirements of having a full duty roster and responding to calls with two qualified persons. However, during this period we continually fail to fill our duty roster and have instances when less than two certified personnel respond.
Our case with the State has been tabled until February. At that time, we need to be able to prove we can meet the State requirements in our current format or present a plan moving forward that ensure we will.
On Saturday, January 12th, the governing body met with City Staff and the leadership of the Fire and EMS Service to discuss potential options moving forward. It is clear our current model of having support rest fully on a volunteer force will not work. Here are the options considered:
Option 1: Turn EMS service completely over to Sedgwick County
- City is no longer responsible for EMS service
Cost, approximately $500K+ annually
- Staffed ambulance not guaranteed to be in Clearwater all the time
- Ambulance would be subject to supporting other County calls throughout the day leaving the Community uncovered for periods of time
- Current coverage area in Sumner County would not be served
- City has no control over performance or annual cost increases
Option 2: Retain local ambulance service. Augment current volunteer staff with full-time paid EMS/Fire certified personnel, utilizing a 24/48-hour (A-B-C) shift schedule. Volunteers would be the second person on the duty roster and still required to sign up and respond.
- City retains local ambulance service
- Cost is significantly less than option1 (approx. $350K+ annually)
- Maintain current coverage area
- Ambulance in Clearwater 24/7 unless on a call
- Continue to use dedicated volunteers
- Reduce demand on volunteers by 50%
- Cost; more than currently budgeted
- If volunteers do not fill their half of the duty roster, ambulance permit is in jeopardy
Both options will be an increase to the City budget. The governing body values the dedication of the volunteers and feels the ability to maintain local response and control is the best option for the City. Unfortunately, the days of an all-volunteer service are no longer sustainable, and we have begun to implement actions to put this plan into place.
We understand this letter is a brief overview and may not provide all the information you need. Therefore, two public meeting will be scheduled to give the community an opportunity to ask questions and gain clarification.
The meetings will be held on January 28th and February 4th at 6:30 pm at the Senior & Community Center located at 921 E Janet.