Paramedic proposal before Fire District No. 11 board

by Clarke Davis

Fire District No. 11 has the opportunity to upgrade its ambulance service by adding a full-time paramedic to the staff.

John Shipley, Valley Falls, a paramedic who most recently was employed by Jefferson County, met with the District 11 board April 12 to discuss the matter.

The board voted to go into executive session for the discussion, but soon realized the matter should have remained public. Full disclosure for this reporter came the next day in a meeting with district attorney Rick Johnson and Fire Chief John Gordon.

Deciding on how to pay for a full-time person will be the main topic when the board holds a special meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 26, at the fire station.

Shipley is a native of the community and is currently serving on the school board. He’s a former volunteer of the District 11 EMS but fell out with Gordon for a time.

Asked if they’d patched things up, the fire chief made light of their differences and said, “We have to look at what’s good for the entire community.”

The proposal discussed by the board involved Shipley being at the station 48 hours a week at an hourly rate still to be negotiated. That rate could be $13 to $16 an hour or an annual salary exceeding $32,000.

The EMS operated for years on donations and then began collecting insurance money along with private fees. Gordon said some of the options being looked at to pay the added cost would be to expand the territory served in Atchison County, take on a couple of private contracts now in the works, raise rates, and add a mill levy.

Gordon said he was sure the district could place a mill levy on the district to support emergency medical services. It was his opinion that the public would support an additional tax levy if it was needed to upgrade this life-saving service.

District 11 EMS has an annual budget of $115,000 and pays the volunteers $50 for each run they make. One volunteer, Jason Guyle, is a paramedic.

The District 11 mill levy of 4.6 mills all goes to the fire department. Adding 1 mill to the district budget would bring in about $13,000. District taxpayers are taxed at the rate of 2.5 mills to support the county ambulance service, the same as everyone else in Jefferson County.

The number of ambulance calls for last month was 25 or almost an average of one a day.

On another matter, Gordon responded to a report in this newspaper last week following a visit of two board members to the county commissioners.

He said he was not an obstruction to getting a new treasurer, that he was merely filling in after the resignation of his brother, Phil Gordon, and will be glad to be rid of the job.

Gordon said he welcomes an audit of the books and in regards to a key to the office, no board member has ever had keys. He said the office is kept secured because of medical records subject to HIPAA laws regarding patient privacy.

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