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Suspensions strain EMS coverage

Staff writer

Marion County Emergency Medical Service is stretching to cover the absence of two Hillsboro Advanced Emergency Medical Technicians suspended for 90 days by order of the Kansas Board of Emergency Medical Services.

Rusty Moss and Susan Wadkins were suspended for technical violations of practicing beyond the scope authorized for their certifications in 2014 and 2015.

Wadkins was at the time of the incident an EMT. According to the order of KBEMS, she accepted transport of a patient on a medication beyond those authorized for use by an EMT.

Moss was suspended for accepting transport of three patients on medications beyond those authorized for use by AEMTs.

In all cases, patients were transported without incident. Both Wadkins and Moss continued working as emergency responders during the investigation, until the suspensions became effective in mid-February. The state board could have suspended either immediately had it determined patient care was in jeopardy.

Ed Debesis, EMS director, said the two will be able to return to duty after the 90 days specified by KBEMS. Their suspension dates are not the same.

Wadkins said that although disciplinary action was taken, she didn’t act with malice or intention to cause harm. In fact, the letter KBEMS sent her pointed out that no harm or danger came to any patient. She’s eager to get back to work.

“I’m looking forward to being able to serve my community again,” Wadkins said.

Delores Dallke, Hillsboro mayor, said EMS volunteers who work for the city are being permitted to take call hours while on duty with their regular jobs.

“It causes some problems because of course we need everybody working for us, but the ambulance is very important to the city of Hillsboro,” Dallke said. “The impact depends on overall scheduling.”

“That’s helped us a little bit,” Debesis said. “There are some down times right now just because of the situation, because the two people that got the suspensions pulled a lot of call time.”

Debesis said he’s in an ongoing process of revising the department’s protocols, changing them from text format to an easier-to-read flow chart format. Protocol books are kept in each ambulance, Debesis said.

Wadkins said she’s glad Debesis has been hired so the service has stable leadership.

“Things were kind of up in the air, and I’m glad that’s taken care of,” Wadkins said.

Hillsboro has 14 EMTs on call, with Moss and Wadkins the only AEMTs, Debesis said.

“There are a few days that are not covered,” he said.

The county has 62 volunteers, with ambulance stations in Marion, Hillsboro, Peabody, Tampa and Florence, Debesis said. Additionally, first responders are located in Durham, Burns, Goessel and Lincolnville.

“We’re going to rebuild and get the service back to what it needs to be,” Debesis said.

Last modified March 24, 2016

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