CUBA CITY—The Cuba City Area Rescue Squad (CCARS) resumed service at 6 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 10. Paramount Ambulance has been taking Cuba City’s calls for two weeks after the state notified CCARS of a complaint about response times.
CCARS put itself on suspension for two weeks to reassess volunteers’ availability, especially during the daytime hours.
“We have been aware for many months that our daytime crew was pretty slim,” Rita Luna, president of CCARS, said.
She made it clear that the complaint, which was filed in September, was not made by someone whose family or themselves experienced a delay in service. Southwest Health Ambulance from Platteville responded to the call when a crew couldn’t be formed in Cuba City.
At a meeting on Nov. 9, the rescue squad and its stakeholders discussed changing the service from Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (AEMT) to basic EMT. Cuba City has been at the AEMT level for several years. Reducing the level of service means the squad can no longer establish IVs for patients, nor can it administer narcotics.
“The squad is very passionate about the care they can give,” Luna said. “With a relatively short transportation time, we feel that we can still provide good quality care at the EMT level.”
EMTs will only be able to practice up to the level of service of the squad, according to state regulations.
“There is a proposal that went before the state and passed both the house andthe senate at the state level allowing services to be more advanced if an AEMT or paramedic is on board,” Luna said. “They would practice up to their level. It would be very good for rural Wisconsin.”
That proposal may take some time to be fully approved and implemented.
“I’m not too overly concerned about making this change because I do believe that we provide high quality care at the EMT level and I believe that in the very near future we will be back to giving those advanced interventions,” Luna said.
The advanced intervention supplies and drugs were removed from the rescue squad as they will not be used at the EMT level of service.
The process to make the change includes holding a public meeting, which took place on Nov. 9; acquire signatures from the mayor and each township involved; remove any reference to AEMT from CCARS’s operational plan; and send the revised operational plan to the medical director, who forwards it with his approval to the state.
Luna was unsure how long the process will take, from a few days to more than a week. The rescue squad’s schedule is currently set up as AEMT to operate under its current level of service until the change becomes official.
“This is not sustainable,” Luna said. The schedule includes volunteers who are using vacation time from their jobs to be available and keep the service going.
“We have some personnel problems for the daytime and we believe that we can fill our schedule easier at the basic EMT level because we have more EMTs than AEMTs,” Luna said.
On the 26-person squad, 10 are drivers, eight are AEMTs and eight are EMTs. To run a call, it requires a driver and two licensed EMTs or a licensed EMT and a licensed first responder.
Luna said they need to have constant coverage, both day and night. If they are not able to meet that, they will implement an activation plan to request assistance for coverage from neighboring entities.
“We are going to get past this and be stronger,” Luna said. “We are stronger already because now we know we have the support of the board, the city council, all of our surrounding people and each other… We appreciate the support of the squad, stakeholders, public and other squads.”
There were only three calls in the 13 days Paramount Ambulance covered for CCARS. The total expense of approximately $31,200 for Paramount Ambulance’s services will be covered by CCARS.