Ambulance Service Controversy heats up

By Mary Zielinski
Posted 11/22/22

Faced with an ambulance department director on paid suspension, pending investigation, and an interim director who resigned abruptly Nov. 17, the Washington County Supervisors Tuesday not only …

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Ambulance Service Controversy heats up


Faced with an ambulance department director on paid suspension, pending investigation, and an interim director who resigned abruptly Nov. 17, the Washington County Supervisors Tuesday not only debated how to get a temporary interim director, but also who would handle day to day operations, especially billings.  Currently, the latter is filled and, as the members spoke, could continue until an interim director is found.  The move was approved with a recommendation there would be extra compensation for the extra work.

Earlier, in discussion, County Attorney John Gish suggested that the interim (temporary position) be filled from outside of the department since there were issues regarding the vote of no confidence letter and its list of names given to the board earlier this month. He explained that because it is temporary, the board could appoint, and no job posting was needed.

However, during further discussion in which there were three who had indicated interest in the post, one could not be immediately available, and the second, who could have, yesterday had medical family emergencies, said supervisor Jack Seward, Jr.    However, he noted, it was possible that the third person could be available later, and consideration could be taken in a special meeting.  However, under the circumstances, Seward said he had no actual recommendation “at this time.”

After more discussion regarding the vacancy, the board agreed that Gish should prepare a job description posting and authorized two members to review/approve it for posting this week.   Normally, it would be a 30-day process, which led to further discussion about the day-to-day operations with concerns raised about field supervisors who would logically have been next in line after the resignation of Pat Curl, the assistant director who had become the interim one in October.  

The interim and billing position discussion followed an earlier one about an independent audit of the ambulance services billing department, with agreement to hire an outside firm (estimated cost $15,500 plus expenses) and indefinite tabling of discussion about a new $350,758 ambulance for delivery in 2024.  Funding for it is not in the current budget, and the supervisors agreed the issue would be “revisited” pending the resolution of personnel issues.

However, the board did acknowledge the Curl resignation, although the letter he submitted last week was not made public.

They also agreed to consider and review job descriptions for “various employees” of the county ambulance services.

Throughout the meeting, there were numerous comments via those attending via Zoom about the ambulance service and its issues, and some about the other disputed matter, Timberland Estates Part III’s drainage effect on existing other property south of Riverside.  

The ongoing concerns Tuesday were presented by adjoining property owner George Gerot of Riverside and his attorney Mark E. Liabo of Cedar Rapids, detailing and stressing the likely drainage problems the proposed development extension would have on flooding; erosion and crop losses from a 20 to 30 percent increase in water runoff with the changes brought by concrete surfaces for driveways and parking; as well as hard surfaced roofs on the property of the Timberline III area.    Gerot, via his attorney, asked that the county not approve the final plat for Timberline III “unless and until suitable mitigation measures are established.”  

At the very start of the session, in public comment, Dana Peck, mother of the suspended ambulance director Jeremy Peck, referring to the no-confidence letter and the hiring of outside human resource advisers, noted waste of tax funds by the supervisors, noted the complaints about the board’s “micromanaging” of the department, and stressed that employees are doing double shifts following both the director’s suspension and staff resignations.  Noting she was over the three-minute limit for public comments, the chairman asked her to please cease.