By DAVID KRIER
The Boscobel Rescue Squad is working to resolve issues with a lack of available weekday EMTs after failing to respond to three calls last Wednesday. That resulted in a call to Wisconsin Emergency Medical Services from the Grant County Sheriff’s Department and a meeting with city, county and state officials Thursday morning at city hall.
“It was a very productive meeting designed at looking for solutions, not pointing fingers,” said Mayor Steve Wetter. “There were some issues and they’re hoping to get it straightened out.”
Even though the rescue squad has 21 active EMTs, only six are able to respond during some weekday, daytime hours. Two may be above to cover some weekdays, but need to speak with their employers. Seven work too far from Boscobel to respond during the day and four members are on extended leaves of absence.
“A lot of this is employers who won’t let people get off work to respond to calls, so we’re trying to get that worked out,” Wetter said.
However, Boscobel isn’t alone in its need for dedicated EMT volunteers. Similar problems exist in Blue River, Muscoda and Fennimore, communities that Boscobel counts on for mutual aid.
“They say it’s all over Grant County,” Wetter said. “Heck, it’s all over Wisconsin. It’s just a sign of the times.”
The rescue squad’s normal daytime planning includes a combination of online scheduling and “all call” where anyone available responds. The variation in paging contributed to last Wednesday’s issues. There was no third page on two of the calls and no second page on the other, indicating a crew had arrived and was handling the situation.
During an emergency meeting of the Boscobel Rescue Squad Board last Wednesday evening, necessary actions going forward included:
• Log coverage on EMS manager and move away from “all call.”
• Speak with two local employers to see if EMTs could leave work to cover calls;
• Work with dispatching for consistent dispatch protocols;
• Replace one pager that did not work last Wednesday, resulting in the one EMT who could respond not getting the page;
• Expand on actions going forward at full membership meeting of the Boscobel Rescue Squad, including recruitment schemes and activities, weekend crews as an option, and options to minimize run times.
With an all-volunteer squad funded entirely by donations, money—or the lack of it—is a constant problem for the Boscobel Rescue Squad. With that in mind the squad is also considering on-call pay options and paid coverage options. There is also the matter of equipment updates for costly rescue squads and training costs.
In June of 2010, Prairie du Chien switched from Prairie du Chien EMS, a non-profit volunteer organization, to the for-profit Interstate EMS after the former failed to respond to three medical calls within eight minutes on a Saturday.
“It was pretty horrific, but we made it through with no problems for interruption of service,” City Administrator Aaron Kramer said Tuesday.