Mitchell County Commissioners Probe EMS

The Mitchell County Commissioners met on Monday morning in Beloit. Mitchell County EMS Director Kelly Hawk delivered a report on a series of calls they responded to near Hunter on Friday afternoon last week. Some of the commissioners had received questions about the response time of the EMS to the scene of a fire on V Road near Hunter where property owner Doug Greiner, age 68, suffered a heart attack and later died.

Hawk said it is the policy of Mitchell County EMS to respond to structure fires by default. They respond to grass fires upon request to standby in case a firefighter needs medical assistance. Lincoln County received a call from the scene at Hunter for a standby unit at what was initially a grass fire. Lincoln in turn contacted Mitchell County for a standby unit because their ambulance was on an out of country transfer.

After that point, the grass fire spread to Greiner’s outbuildings and he later collapsed. When the call came through for the medical emergency, Assistant EMS Director Eric Hamel took the departments SUV to the scene with a response time of 24 minutes from Beloit. Minutes later the ambulance out of Beloit arrived which was originally called out for standby. An additional unit responded from Tipton as well.
The consensus of the commissioners was that the response was good considering the situation, the varying nature of calls from the scene and the distance required for travel. Commissioner Tom Claussen suggested as much specifically.

Commissioner Jim Marshall said he has been told there are sometimes communication issues in the south part of the county having to do with signal repeaters, according to rural fire district personnel.
The situation created a discussion led by Hawk about getting automatic electronic defibrillators (AED’s) for fire and sheriff’s deputy vehicles. Hawk said he will speak with Sheriff Perez about getting AED’s in the county patrol vehicles. It is impossible to know if Mr. Greiner could have been saved by an AED if the first responders such as fire fighters or sheriff’s deputies had an AED available before a medical unit arrived. Assistant Director Hamel did utilize an AED on Mr. Greiner once he arrived on scene, but those efforts ultimately failed.

The City of Beloit purchased 27 AED’s last year with the help of grant funding. They have them in all their police vehicles and several city department trucks. Community Development Director Heather Hartman said she would check into similar grant assistance to what the city received.
Hawk also said the EMS has hired Amber Robinson of Beloit as a full-time EMT, and he will be conducting more interviews this week.

Courthouse Maintenance Manager Brian Streit appeared before the commissioners requesting an executive session to discuss non-elected personnel. Streit’s hours were increased from 40 to 50 hours per week due to changes in personnel. Kathy File, the Deputy County Clerk is approaching retirement as of May 1. She will be replaced in the clerk’s office by new Deputy Clerk Kristi Hillman. Steit’s current assistant, Lynn Imboden, will move in to that vacancy left in the clerk’s office with the promotion of Hillman.

Discussion was held on the elevators in the courthouse. A contract was agreed to with Simplex Monitoring Systems, which is a national alarm monitoring service, for $649 per year for fire detection in the courthouse elevators to meet the requirements of the fire marshal. There will be more upgrades required in the future for the elevators in upwards of $67,000 dollars. That matter will be taken up at a later date.

Director of Public Works Larry Emerson appeared with Dale Housh who will replace Emerson when he retires at the end of the month. Emerson said they have one payment remaining on their big loader at the landfill. This will help the county overhead for years to come as the unit should last “15-20 years” according to Emerson.

He also discussed well testing which will be taking place at the landfill, conducted by Geocore of Salina. Gravel testing was done and found to be adequate for use on property owned by Gary Schmitt and the county will pay $3.50 per ton for it. Emerson added that a county owned 1996 Case loader with about 6,000 hours had the engine lock up late last week. They were still trying to diagnose the problem as of Monday.

The commissioners then approved a contract for a period of one year with Dunstan Trucking to transfer solid waste from the county landfill to Rolling Meadows near Topeka at $515 per trip. Emerson said the price is very reasonable according to a representative from Rolling Meadows. Additional fees to the county will also be assessed at about $20 per ton. This will come to a total per trip cost of about $1,000-$1,100 each as the county pays the tonnage fees.

Hartman discussion the upcoming county wide cleanup. The county will apply for cleanup grants from the Dane G. Hansen foundation which will offer up to $20,000 for the cleanup efforts. Options were discussed on how to conduct the clean-up from a logistical standpoint. Preliminary discussions suggested the clean-up event will be held in early June.

Following their meeting, the commissioners and Deputy Clerk File traveled to Mankato for a quarterly four-county meeting with commissioners and clerks from Jewell, Osborne and Smith Counties.
The commissioners are next scheduled to meet on Monday, March 13 at 8:30 a.m. at the Mitchell County Courthouse.