September 9, 2019
For Immediate Release
For More Information Contact: Karl Helgevold 515-851-1344
Wright County EMS System Earns Excellence in Action Award
The Wright County EMS System was the recipient of the 2019 Iowa State Association of Counties (ISAC) Excellence in Action Award.
The Excellence in Action Award Program is a competitive awards program that seeks to recognize innovative county government employees, programs and projects. The award was presented to the Wright County Board of Supervisors during a ceremony at the ISAC Annual Conference in Des Moines on August 21.
During their meeting on Monday morning, the Board of Supervisors recognized the Wright County EMS System Advisory Council for their dedication and direction in developing a plan to improve the EMS System in Wright County.
The Excellence in Action award recognizes Wright County for implementing the first and only countywide EMS System in the state to be funded by a voter-approved special property tax levy.
“It was no secret the system was broken,” explained former Wright County Emergency Management Coordinator Jim Lester, who also served as Chairman of the Advisory Council. “Each of the services was struggling with both funding and staffing. The Advisory Council worked with the Service Directors, hospital administration and local elected officials to develop the countywide plan.”
As EMS in Wright County approached crisis level, the Board of Supervisors formed an EMS Advisory Council. The Advisory Council made up of agency partners, county, city and hospital leaders spent nearly two years researching and developing a plan to improve the county EMS System.
The Advisory Council recommendations included agency collaboration, system standards and a funding option to provide the ambulance services with supplemental funding to enhance and improve EMS throughout the county.
The Board of Supervisors and each city council followed the Advisory Council’s recommendation in passing resolutions, declaring EMS an Essential Service in Wright County and ultimately asking the voters to approve a property tax levy that will generate about $585,000 a year for the next five years to provide support to the agencies providing emergency medical services in the county.
The system allows each of the current ambulance services to maintain their independent operations, while also incorporating a plan that involves EMS System coordination and medical direction to be provided by Iowa Specialty Hospital.
“This was a long process, but the stakeholders involved, stayed the course and worked well together to develop an EMS System that will serve all the citizens of Wright County,” said Board of Supervisors member Karl Helgevold. “We were fortunate to have buy-in from everyone at the table and all agreed the end goal was to develop a system that allowed each ambulance service to maintain their independence, while having overall system coordination and direction to provide consistency in care throughout the county.