Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

Ambulance transition proceeds despite local resistance

 


Despite resistance from locals, the Kimball Board of commissioners moved forward on the plan to transition local emergency services from a county-managed service to a hybrid model.

To allow members of the public time to voice concerns about the new hybrid model ambulance service, the Kimball County Commissioners extended their bi-monthly meeting on March 7, 2017, reconvening in the afternoon to dozens of citizens.

Although none of the agenda items were unusual, many in opposition of the imminent changes had taken to social media and posted flyers asking the public to attend the meeting. Hopes of changing the minds of the commissioners and preventing the transition from a county run entity to the hybrid model it is now, were not met with deaf ears, however the time for public comment was long past.

According to the agenda, and confirmed with both Matt Turman, legal counsel for the board and County Clerk Cathy Sibal, this was not a public hearing, as most in attendance thought it was and as the Star Herald’s article suggested, in truth it was the final check-off list before the transition took place.

Listed among the agenda items was an amendment to the contract, signed between Kimball County, Kimball Health Services and Regional West Medical Center, that added Kimball County as an additional insured in the RWMC and KHS insurance policy.

Other items included reviewing the contract signed on December 6, 2016, receiving an update on the transition and when the transition would take place as well as coordinating with previous ambulance director, Carla Goranson to finalizing the transition.

Public comments are typically limited in Nebraska board meetings and allowed only during the public comment portion, however the Kimball board agreed to receive the public feedback before addressing the agenda items.

Prior to public comment, County Attorney David Wilson addressed those in attendance giving a historical timeline of the Kimball Ambulance Service starting in 1971.

Near the end of his address, he included more details about how the changes being implemented were suggested solutions from an EMS Assessment of the local service requested in May 2016 by ambulance director, Carla Goranson. In that assessment, it was pointed out that the county board’s understanding was insufficient to run an ambulance service and that it would be better off in the hands of more qualified individuals or entities.

For 75 minutes, the majority of the public in attendance expressed their displeasure and disappointment in the board’s decision and also in the board members themselves, with several attacks towards their character and integrity.

Though many asked questions of the board, interruptions from others in the crowd kept few of those questions from being answered by the board or legal counsel.

When asked why the issue had not been put to a public vote, Sibal answered that she had, in fact, looked into the issue, and to her knowledge, the issue could not legally be voted on. Turman agreed, stating that according to state statute, this was not the type of issue that could be voted on.

At 2:15 p.m., Chairman Engstrom called for the end to the public comments and proceeded with addressing the agenda items. The board unanimously agreed to make the transition on March 11, as planned.

The Kimball Ambulance Service is running under a hybrid model recommended by the EMS Assessment that has Kimball County, Kimball Health Services and Regional West Medical Center working in partnership to provide ambulance services in Kimball County.

 

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