IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

EMS Workers Putting County Ambulance Data on Facebook

Fed up with a lack of transparency from county government after an ongoing crisis within its Emergency Medical Services, Sedgwick County EMS workers have created a Facebook page to provide live updates and insights.

Ambulance
(TNS)- Fed up with a lack of transparency from county government after an ongoing crisis within its Emergency Medical Services, Sedgwick County EMS workers have created a Facebook page to provide live updates and insights, including how many ambulances are currently deployed.

And they're asking members of the public to contact their elected county officials to demand change.

“Several street-level providers wanted to provide a live-time page with publicly accessible information that would otherwise be hidden from the public,” the page’s moderator said in a Facebook message.

The Eagle confirmed the creators of the page are EMS employees. They asked to remain anonymous to avoid retribution by the county.

“EMS doesn’t have a union like police or fire for any type of public relations, nor does county communications allow us our own Facebook page like the Sheriff’s office or fire district. . . . We’ve been told no by the county administration enough that this is being run anonymously for the moment.”

The workers reported Monday that the EMS department started the day down five ambulances during first and second shifts because of a staffing shortage that has taken root under EMS Director Dr. John Gallagher, as detailed in a Wichita Eagle series “Unresponsive.”

Two ambulances — one in downtown Wichita and another in Garden Plain — have been out of service since 2020. Three additional ambulances — one downtown, one near Central and Maize in west Wichita and one in Park City — were pulled off the streets Monday. The ambulance in Park City was later put into service before 1 p.m. until 6 p.m.

“These closures are due to 8 open positions on these shifts, 2 paramedics who are on vacation, and 1 who is ill today,” the Sedgwick County EMS Advocates page said. “We are so grateful that two X-shift employees chose to work overtime today and two part time employees are assisting us, preventing more ambulances from being closed down due to lack of staffing!”

The Eagle reported last week that Sedgwick County EMS has lost a third of its department since the county merged emergency medical services and the medical director’s office, placing Gallagher in charge in August 2019. The staffing shortage has led to dangerously slow response times, The Eagle found.

Employees called for Gallagher’s removal during closed-door town hall meetings on April 26 and April 28.

Commissioner Jim Howell has called for Gallagher to be placed on administrative leave until a private law firm completes its audit of EMS leadership, but the other four county commissioners and County Manager Tom Stolz have said they’re waiting for the audit to decide whether to make a leadership change.

In an email to all county employees on Friday, Stolz said he was “anticipating the executive summary of [Hite, Fanning & Honeyman’s] findings any day.” Commissioners expect to be briefed on its findings later this week.

“EMS has provided quality emergency patient care to the residents of this community for over 46 years and I am confident in their professionalism as we try to solve this latest strife related directly to their leadership,” Stolz said in the email.

“I will take proactive action to address issues brought to Assistant County Manager Rusty Leeds and myself by our EMS employees on April 26 and 28 of this year,” he wrote. “Our EMS professionals deserve good leadership from within their department — from the Director down to first line supervisors. We will work through what is best for the EMS department and the organization.”

The page organizers are asking anyone who is interested in following regular ambulance and staffing shortages to visit Sedgwick County EMS Advocates at facebook.com/SCEMSadvocates.

“If this concerns you, we encourage you to contact your county commissioners and ask why so many ambulances are off track and encourage them to work positively with EMS employees to select new, positive & pro-active leadership for the department,” the page said.

___

(c)2021 The Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kan.)

Visit The Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kan.) at www.kansas.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
Special Projects
Sponsored Articles