Village considers options for EMD

Aurora’s exit from program forces Grafton to make decision regarding Emergency Medical Dispatch
Ozaukee Press Staff

The Grafton Village Board is weighing its options to continue its Emergency Medical Dispatch program before its partnership with Aurora Health Care will end in early May.

“The clock is ticking. A move of this caliber isn’t going to happen overnight,” Village President Jim Brunnquell said during Monday’s Village Board meeting. 

Last month, Aurora requested the village enter into a mutual termination agreement, which will leave the village without a medical director for the EMD program. During the meeting the Village Board agreed to continue supporting EMD, but without a licensed medical director the village would be liable for any medical instructions given during emergency calls.

During the meeting, Village Administrator Jesse Thyes offered the board two options to continue the program, which include using Columbia St. Mary’s Ozaukee Hospital in Mequon or using an outside agency that has medical direction for call handling and dispatching.

Thyes asked the Village Board to allow for him to pursue discussions with Columbia St. Mary’s for medical direction, but the motion failed to pass, 4-3, with trustees David Liss, David Antoine, Lisa Uribe Harbeck and Tom Krueger dissenting.

Harbeck said she did not vote to pursue talks with Columbia St. Mary’s because the hospital cannot handle trauma calls, and it might not have the capacity to support the Village of Grafton because it already provides medical direction to two other communities.

Thyes also provided the board a few other options that he didn’t consider practical, which include using EMD without a medical director, renegotiating the village’s contract with Aurora, or implementing new EMD software that has different medical oversight requirements than Aurora. 

In December, the Town of Grafton transferred its emergency calls to Ozaukee County’s dispatch center, which also uses EMD. During Monday’s meeting, the Village Board considered partnering with the county to handle EMD and fire calls, while the Village’s dispatch center would take on police calls.

“Our dispatchers know Grafton. How is it safe if there’s a delay in getting the calls handled by the county?” Trustee Sue Meinecke asked.

Ultimately, the Village Board tabled its decision regarding what option it should pursue for the EMD program, but the topic will be discussed at its next meeting.

In December 2015, the village entered into a partnership with Aurora and Priority Dispatch, an emergency medical software company, to implement the EMD program, which provides dispatchers with a series of questions to determine the appropriate level of response in an emergency. 

The EMD program was supported by a $37,105 Aurora Foundation grant as long as Aurora physician Steven Zils was the program’s medical director. The agreement also specified that the village earn accreditation.

Priority Dispatch conducted an on-site review, and concerns arose about the efficiency of the program.

Last spring, a “re-boot” of the implementation of EMD was conducted for the village to work toward earning its accreditation. One of the benchmarks required a non-compliance score in handling emergency calls of 10% or less by Dec. 4.

The average non-compliance average from September through November was 19.3%. Thyes said for the month of December the village did achieve a 10% non-compliance score. 

“Our dispatch center is showing progress with utilizing EMD, but we did not reach our benchmark,” he said.

According to Thyes, there has also been difficulties in establishing roles and responsibilities in handling policy and operational changes for the program.

“The board is committed to EMD,” Brunnquell said. “We’re at a crossroads, and we will need to make a decision.”




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