Emergency Medical Response Service Coming To Waupun

The Waupun City Council Committee meeting Tuesday was the platform used to unveil a plan that would add Emergency Medical Response service to the city of Waupun.

According to City Administrator and Director of Economic Development Kathy Schlieve, a rise in 911 calls, along with an increase in Department of Corrections calls have prompted the move.

The cost of the programs is expected to be about $50,000 for the first year. The city of Waupun will be investigating grant funds that might be available to assist in funding the operation.

The full press release from Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director BJ DeMaa is as follows:

As the number of 9-1-1 calls for Emergency Medical Service (EMS) trend upward, the City of Waupun has begun the process of establishing an Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) group.  In a meeting with the Waupun Common Council, City Administrator Kathy Schlieve explained that 9-1-1 ambulance calls during the 4th quarter of 2020 were up 30% over the same time period from prior year.  Calls to the Department of Corrections (DOC) facilities increased 25% during this same time period.  Schlieve continued, “primary call response types fueling the increase include falls, including those with no transport; mental health; and other increasing medical needs for people in our community.”  According to Schlieve, community demographics are contributing to this growing demand as the population ages and sees increases in mental health and other medical needs. 

The City of Waupun currently provides ambulance service through a contract with Lifestar.  The City of Waupun is the hub of the Waupun Ambulance District.  The service territory of that District includes coverage for the City of Waupun, Townships of Alto, Metomen, Oakfield, Springvale, Chester, Trenton and Waupun, and the Villages of Brandon and Oakfield.   Additionally, county-level mutual aid agreements are in place to ensure adequate 9-1-1 coverage.  As use of mutual aid increases, more demand is placed on the total system and the question of when to add an additional ambulance and at what cost faces City of Waupun officials.   According to Schlieve, “The addition of another ambulance to the Waupun service contract would come at a considerable cost and it is important that we monitor ongoing trends to inform when and if that decision is made.” According to Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director, B.J. DeMaa, “readiness comes at a cost. Estimates for adding a third ambulance are in the neighborhood of $350,000.” 

An interim and more affordable step is being recommended to supplement the current ambulance service with the addition of Emergency Medical Responders (EMR).  The City has worked with Dan Williams of Strategic Management Resources to develop a plan.  EMRs are a group of volunteers trained to provide preliminary response until an ambulance arrives on scene.  Fire Chief B.J. DeMaa explained “within any ambulance system, opportunities exist where call volume will exceed ambulance capacity. We owe it to our citizens to ensure no gaps exist when they call 9-1-1 and we believe EMR’s will strengthen the EMS system in the City of Waupun.”

The Waupun Common Council made the decision to proceed with the recommendation and approved training for EMRs to occur in 2021 at a cost not to exceed $15,000.  The initial EMR plan will provide training for approximately 10 people.  DeMaa indicated that members of Waupun’s fire department and individuals in the community have inquired in the past about a city-run run EMR program and he believes the interest is there to fill volunteer positions.  Simultaneous to training, city staff will be working on an operational plan for the EMR service with the anticipation of being fully operational by 2022 if not before.  The estimated cost for year 1 of the program, which includes the initial training for the group, is believed to be around $50,000.  Williams shared with the Council that different grants and partnerships may be available that would allow the program to get off the ground for less cost.