NewsLocal News

Actions

'Win-win': Two Wyoming counties partner with hospitals for new ambulance service

Sheridan and Campbell County partnering
wyoming regional ambulance.jpg
Posted at 3:51 PM, Sep 06, 2023

SHERIDAN — Last November, Sheridan County in northern Wyoming made a switch in its ambulance service providers. Now, Wyoming Regional EMS, a partnership between local hospitals, has taken over.

It's a move both county leadership and hospitals say is a win-win.

When disaster strikes, many rely on emergency medical services (EMS) to save the day.

“Say you’re having a heart attack, you call 911, you expect somebody to show up. In a lot of places, that doesn’t happen," said Jason Frye, an EMS shift supervisor for Campbell County Health EMS, on Tuesday. "I think Wall, South Dakota, they were going to end up closing their doors because they don’t have providers. They can’t financially sustain that, so the closest next ambulance service would be an hour, hour and a half away, or whatever it is, instead of having someone actually in that community providing that service."

Jason Frye
Jason Frye

Workers in the EMS field are dwindling, and many are leaving with claims of being overworked and underpaid.

“In Sheridan County, we’re facing the same struggles that the rest of the world seems to be facing, in that it’s a really difficult career. The average length of an EMS provider is 4-5 years," said Benjamin Wetzel, a lead medic for Wyoming Regional EMS, on Tuesday. "We have a really high burnout rate. It’s a difficult job. It puts a lot of stress on your home life. We see that we lose people, they don’t stay in the career for a long time, and we’re having trouble recruiting new people into the industry just because it is a difficult career."

Benjamin Wetzel
Benjamin Wetzel

From Jan. 1 to Aug. 30 of this year, Wyoming Regional EMS responded to nearly 2,000 calls for service in the Sheridan area.

Statistics from the open house
Statistics from the open house

The new service provider is a partnership between local hospitals in Sheridan and Campbell counties and has been active since November. It’s replacing Sheridan County’s previous independent ambulance service.

“We are so excited to be a part of the Sheridan community. It’s a beautiful place," Wetzel said. "We love the people here. We have felt so welcomed and are just excited to grow and continue to serve this community for a long time."

On Tuesday, an open house was held for the community to learn about the changes at Wyoming Regional EMS' facility, located at 731 Broadway St. in Sheridan.

“I think the best benefit is you have two communities and really two hospitals working together, instead of trying to do their own ambulance service and compete for staff and all the things that come with that," said Chris Beltz, the vice chairman for Wyoming Regional EMS, on Tuesday. "We’ve collaborated, we’re working together, we’re sharing financial resources, staffing resources, and really doing what’s best for northeast Wyoming working together."

Chris Beltz
Chris Beltz

Beltz says this new partnership has paved the way for a better, more collaborative system.

"From the patients who call 911 to the hospitals that receive those patients and also those hospitals that need to get patients from point A to point B, like a bigger hospital, working together like this makes it go really well for everyone,” Beltz said.

EMTs outside of the open house
EMTs outside of the open house

Something Sheridan County Commissioner Christi Haswell can agree with.

“I think for the county, we’ve really seen some efficiencies in the collaboration between us and Campbell County," Haswell said on Tuesday. "Having that larger regional system, they’ve been an incredibly professional group, and we’ve really enjoyed working with them."

Christi Haswell
Christi Haswell

Working together to provide timely, quality care.

“As a commissioner, in our role, it’s really to provide services to our county residents," Haswell said. "I think knowing that they’re going to have quality, quick responsiveness is huge for them. So it's a win-win all the way around."