"One team - one fight"

Supervisor struck by public's lack of knowledge around EMS services


LEE COUNTY - A perceived lack of understanding on the part of the public has the county board of supervisors concerned about the upcoming special election to enact a levy to help pay for county EMS services.

At Monday's regular Lee County Board of Supervisors meeting, board chair Garry Seyb, said he's been getting phone calls from people concerned about the levy. He said many of those calls are laced with misinformation.

Seyb told Supervisors he was surprised at how many people don't get the ambulances in the county all are part of one county EMS system.

"The thing that struck me most was the lack of knowledge and awareness people have around the ambulance," Seyb said.

"Some questions centered around if the Donnellson ambulance was affliated to the Keokuk ambulance - not realizing we're one team, one fight in Lee County. It's all one group, so I think we need to get an informational campaign out there."

Seyb said Jefferson County is now struggling under a contracted service that is struggling to even staff the two ambulances under contract for the county. He added that the contractor has increased the same contract from $330,000 to $1.2 million for just one ambulance.

"It's important that we reach out and answer questions so they understand that Fort Madison ambulance is not Fort Madison, Keokuk ambulance is not Keokuk's, and Donnellson's is not Donnellson's. It's Lee County as a whole. We're one group and we support each other."

He said if there is a major accident or fire and three ambulances are called, they are receiving ambulances from other points in the county.

Seyb also said the county needs to hold some community forums.

Supervisor Matt Pflug said the people he's talking to are scared and he's looking for a heavy turnout.

"Keokuk, we're not used to this, and we lost our hospital and we have to react," Pflug said.

"We're going to see a pretty good turnout and I'm going to get out and push it. Even the early voting."

Supervisor Tom Schulz said it's important for the public to realize that either the county finds money for the service, or they have to reduce the service.

"I don't think anyone wants to pick up the phone and dial 9-1-1 and hear, 'Oh sorry, no one is available'," Schulz said. "'Leave a message at the tone.'"

Seyb said he's reached out to department heads to look into their budgets to help address those concerns. He said the board appropriately voted to fund nine additional staff to stand up a 24/7 Keokuk service.

The board also voted to go from 19 polling locations for the special election on March 7, to just 10 to save on election expenses.

The board also unanimously approved using $230,000 in opioid settlement funds to help offset some of the deficit spending in the EMS department, specifically payroll.

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