Knak returns to EMS post

Staff writer

After more than 22 years on the job and 11 years off, JoAnn Knak will fill in as Marion County EMS director.

Her interim appointment comes after former director Steve Smith was relieved of duties June 30.

“Ninety days is my max,” she said Monday.

Knak will be paid $24 per hour, slightly more than Smith, because the county will not pay her for insurance.

Since Knak retired as EMS director in 2003, she has continued to go on ambulance calls for the department. She is a certified mobile intensive care technician (essentially, a paramedic) and an instructor/coordinator.

She still has familiarity with the EMS department but is dealing with technological changes.

“I’m a little overwhelmed because things have changed over the last 11 years,” she said. “I can turn a computer on and do some research, but that’s as far as it’ll go.”

The service has changed considerably, though, since she began in 1971.

“Back in 1971 we thought we were just pretty darn good,” she said. “Basically we were running an ambulance service with advanced first aid.”

Knak and other technicians eventually grew with their knowledge. By 1975 she earned EMT certification. In 1981 she was hired as Marion County director.

“As the training has grown, basic EMTs are doing things today that we didn’t know anything about back in the ‘70s — epinephrine, nitroglycerin, defibrillation,” she said. “It’s kind of exciting.”

The department is short-staffed in most areas she said, “but with a good EMT class, we can get everything back up to status quo.”

Commissioners passed along thanks to Knak for accepting the position.

“Passion is worth so much,” Chairman Roger Fleming said.

Knak discussed the advancement of testing for the current advanced EMT class, replacement of tires on the Tampa ambulance, and provisions of the permanent EMS director job requirements.

 

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