Committee Established To Review Beaver Dam Fire Programs

(Beaver Dam) The Beaver Dam Police and Fire Commission last Tuesday night established an ad hoc committee to look at two services offered by the fire department. The Paramedic Intercept and Interfacility Transport programs are taking front and center in a debate about a referendum being considered to fund six new paramedic-firefighters. The interfacility transport program was established in 2007 to generate revenue for the city by transporting patients between health care facilities, often during non-emergency situations, if personnel are available, preferably part-time.

Chief Alan Mannel says interfacility transports are important to the local hospital, nursing homes and the community. In the event of an emergency like a heart attack, he says private ambulance services and medical helicopters may be unavailable, often times making Beaver Dam “the only game in town” to get a patient to Madison or Milwaukee.

Mannel says options include continuing to provide interfacility transports in emergency situations only, eliminating nursing home and doctor visit transports, raising rates to attract more part-time personnel and providing the transports only to residents of the fire district. He says complete elimination of interfacility transports would result in the loss of revenue and part-time jobs while possibly damaging the city’s relationship with the hospital.

With a paramedic intercept, Beaver Dam personnel meet ambulances from outlying communities, that have agreements with the city, to provide a higher level of care during emergency situations. Mannel says the city should consider increasing the flat rate for neighboring communities while also reducing the types of calls considered paramedic-level that Beaver Dam would respond to. The chief also suggested that a policy could be implemented to limit having only one paramedic intercept unit in operation at any time.

The committee is expected to form a recommendation on the two programs that would be brought back to the commission for a final vote as the PFC has ultimate control over all police and fire programs. The inclusion of a staffing referendum on the November ballot will be considered by the common council at their meeting July 20.