Consider ways to improve EMS

In response to recent articles and comments regarding EMS in Finney County:

My only objective has been to measure the integrity of the common topics regarding this situation. I would like to provide a brief insight of my background in order to allow an understanding of how I can speak as an authority on this matter. I have been employed by Finney County EMS, the Garden City Fire Department and American Medical Response--Kansas Operations, and personally know the majority of all parties and people involved.

In the last year, full-time personnel have been exiting the EMS department to total nearly 40 percent. In most institutions, this would be considered an issue. Personnel attrition is a common theme with administration changes. We should also objectively look at not just the shortened time frame in their exit, but also the role and level of experience they left with. Was there an honest attempt to work under the new director? Did they provide Mr. Hopkins a fair chance to prove him as their leader? Mostly they did offer this chance but did Mr. Hopkins offer the same in return?

High call volume is by no stretch of the imagination a contributory factor to the extremely high recent turnover and by stating that responding to less than 2.5 calls a day per ambulance is the catalyst for staff leaving is not just embarrassing to EMS as a department, but to EMS as a whole.

Low pay and benefits is not a solution to the equation, either. Although a higher salary is always nice, I promise you the current rates at Finney County EMS are at the industry standard even though retirement plans could use an upgrade.

In 2010, AMR received a subsidy of $50.57 per call from Shawnee County (total tax subsidy divided by number of calls). In that same year residents of Finney County spent $404.24 per EMS call.

Why a huge difference? Why does a county five times smaller pay a rate of eight times more for an EMS service (Finney and Shawnee)? It's not the "level of care," a punch line in this issue as it relates to private versus public EMS departments. AMR-Topeka has much more aggressive and advanced protocols than what I was operating under at Finney County. For example: CPAP, RSI, Critical Care Paramedics, portable ventilators, hypothermia protocols, STEMI and trauma system alerts, EKG transmission (doctors are able to review an EKG from your living room), interfacing with air-medical resources, none of which are seen at Finney County. About a year ago, I not only provided Finney County EMS with this information and also gave them the equipment in hand so they would see the benefits themselves, still no improvements.

Does Finney County need a change in EMS? I can tell you that as a community, you should at least welcome the opportunity to see what another EMS agency can do for you stop paying so much.

BRYAN R. WITHAM,

Olathe

Support benefits hunters, habitat

Extreme Fowl wishes to thank all those from the southwest Kansas area for their support of our 2012 Banquet at Deerfield on Feb. 18.

Our vision is to assist and promote hunting opportunities within our surrounding area. We are a nonprofit organization which plans to educate our youth about hunting opportunities that exist within the area, as well as supporting projects that will enhance the habitat around us. If you have any such projects that we may address, contact any member or write Extreme Fowl, 2603 Road A4, Deerfield, KS 67838.

DANNY BESTHORN,

Garden City