In a proposal approved by Sioux City Council on Monday, September 11th, Sioux City Fire Rescue moved to create a civilian medic division to begin operation on January 1s, 2018. The new division within Sioux City Fire Rescue would pick-up 911 emergency ambulance services within Sioux City Limits that Siouxland Paramedics will cease to provide after December 31st.
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Siouxland Paramedics said in mid-August they planned to exercise their contractual ability to cease providing emergency ambulance services in Sioux City on December 31st, 2017 due to an increasingly difficult financial environment.
When first reported it was assumed that Sioux City Fire Rescue would takeover the services. It’s a natural fit as for years they have worked alongside Siouxland Paramedics responding to every emergency medical call with them. Responding with Siouxland Paramedics allows a quicker response time as they are often closer, with 7 fire houses across the city, additional manpower is often needed at medical scenes and much of their personnel are trained in basic and advanced EMS roles.
The proposal approved would create a new civilian medic division within Sioux City Fire Rescue. The new division would mimic the 911 services provided by Siouxland Paramedics within the City Limits. Sioux City Fire Rescue would still respond along side the Ambulance service and backup ambulances would be operated by Sioux City Fire Rescue out of Stations 5, 7, and 8 just as one is currently at Station 3. Existing ambulances would be used as they are already owned by the City. Additionally, Sioux City Fire Rescue hopes to hire as many existing Siouxland Paramedics Employees as they can.
Many backend changes would happen, however. Ambulances would operate out of existing Fire Stations, Station 1, 3, and 4 from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm and Station 4 and 3 from 8:00 pm to 8:00 am rather than separate posts, currently, Ambulances are usually posted at St Lukes Hospital, North Sioux City Fire Station, and Siouxland Paramedics new building at 1110 Dace Avenue. Also not as many employees would be needed as the overall business model would change. The initial operating cost is estimated at $598.938 whereas Siouxland Paramedics fiscal year 2017 operating cost was $804,998
December 31st being only 3 and a half months away means that decisions, processes, hiring and other details must be worked out as quickly as possible to ensure a smooth transition of services so that residents of Sioux City continue to receive quick and professional care.
There continue to be many unknowns, like the surrounding agencies that depend on Siouxland Paramedics for assistance. Agencies in Woodbury, Plymouth, Dakota, and Union Counties often require paramedic assistance from Siouxland Paramedics. While some already have paramedic service many do not and those that do are either understaffed or don’t have enough staff to meet the medical response needs at times. Sioux City Fire Rescue’s plan spells out that that emergency services will be provided in the city only and not include non-emergent transfers or assistance to other communities unless terms favorable to the city can be worked out.
The proposal includes 27 civilian positions including an EMS Director, EMS Compliance Officer, 4 Lead Medics and 21 Medics. Siouxland Paramedics employees 57, 31 full-time, 1 part-time and 25 contingent. Sioux City Fire Rescue plans to give priority hiring to current SPI employees but requires that individuals live in Iowa and within 10 miles of Sioux City. This would disqualify some current SPI employees that live in South Dakota and Nebraska.