New Hire for Ambulance Crew

Search for a Director Continues

“I’d like for her to start her effective today so that she can start training,” Tawny Heinemann, Human Resources Director for Moody County, told commissioners this past week. Heinemann was giving them an update on a new hire for the county ambulance crew.
Morgan Lyman, the new hire would be a great addition, Heinemann and the Commission agreed. She previously worked in Sioux Falls for the ambulance service that responds to all of that city’s calls. They would like her on staff part-time as an EMT as quickly as possible, not only as a resource for the county, but also to help relieve some of the pressure on existing part-time staff. They have been working to fill extra shifts all fall with the Director position again open and until now, the position for part-time EMT.
Also approved for hire by the Commissioners last week are the hiring of Nicole Mattern as a Dispatcher for the county, effective November 2, 2021 and Jerrick Charles as Emergency Manager/Veteran Service Officer (VSO).
First responders in rural areas are not easy to come by. That was generally the case and a growing concern prior to the pandemic. The past nearly two years have only exacerbated the problem. There are currently shortages, for many reasons, across the board when it comes to paramedics and EMS nationwide. No community appears immune — urban or rural.
But especially in places like Moody County, Heinemann said, “Keeping someone can be challenging if they don’t live locally. The time spent away from family and kids I think has been an issue for our directors, and in filling the position. The Ambulance Director position requires seven 24-hour shifts in a two-week period and if you don’t live locally, that can be hard to balance with family.”
She added that attracting a director, she and others believe, can be challenging as experienced paramedics are looking for a better schedule. When they hear about the position and look at the title, most believe they’ll get more of an 8-5 schedule. That just isn’t the case here locally.
The director position has been open since September, not many applicants have been coming in. AJ Gengler, the former Director, had been in the position just a short time before he and his wife moved back to Minnesota to be near family.
Heinemann assures it has not affected the level of care given by the current crew, or any crew. The biggest impact, she believes, is simply the burden of additional duties and hours put on other staff. The ambulance at all times requires two people on board — either a paramedic and an EMT, two paramedics, two EMTs or a paramedic and a driver. Currently there are ten EMTs, some of whom are SDSU students that help fill in when they are needed and four or five that are drivers.
People trained in EMS and drivers, Heineman said, are limited because people are so busy with other things. Drivers especially, most help with farming in the area and availability during certain times of the year is tough.
She hopes all on staff know how appreciative the county and local residents are of them stepping up to help out and ensure quality and timely care when they need it most.
“I’m very thankful we have great staff, or this would be a bigger issue. Nicole and Scott, our two full time staff, have been working extra hours for a couple months now and they’ve been very good about doing what we have to do to get by.”
The Commissioners additionally took up issues of a new fenced-in play area for children in the Head Start Program at the Moody County Extension Center, a project to be done in coordination with a team from SDSU to look at how many small structures (culverts, etc.) the county has on its roads and to document the condition they are in, and the Board held the first reading on Ordinance 2021-04, which is an Ordinance to repeal Moody County’s Drainage Ordinances (2001-01 and 2009060201). The second reading will be held November 16, 2021. More on why the Board feels that is the right move to make, in next week’s Enterprise.