Volunteer fireman, EMS worker Jimmy Lewis named interim crew chief
Local ambulance services took a blow last week when EMS manager Elli Czarnota quit. The resignation came as a surprise for many as she gave the Hospital District little notice.
To add to the abrupt resignation, EMS lost its only two Advanced Life Support (ALS) personnel. They had been Czarnota and Tom Englehart.
In a public announcement about leaving the crew, Czarnota wrote, “As many of you know, this was a very difficult decision for me to make. After the meeting held on October 15 with EMS, the message I received was, I am part of the problem. Everyone seemed to be very receptive to the clinic doc (Dr. Richard Amesquita) being the bridge between me and the director (Delwin Lester). I’m sorry but, I do not agree.”
Czarnota had stopped talking to Lester and adamantly refused to re-open communication with him. She explained to the Tribune she had trouble with Lester in the past, and did not feel as if he and the board treated her fairly.
To make a stand against the alleged mismanagement, Czarnota admitted to attempting to organize a meeting with the EMS crew with the intention to shut EMS down until it was treated as an equal to the clinic. She clarified the meeting had been scheduled at the request of two ther EMS crew members. Tobin stepped in and the meeting did not occur. Czarnota continued in her statement that she has been blessed to have the community in her life.
“I wish you all well in the pursuit for the mill levy,” Czarnota wrote. “You all so deserve it and so does this awesome community!! Thank you all for the support and hard work you have given me and EMS and I hope you can all give my replacement the same.”
“We have an interim EMS manager right now,” Hospital District board member Bob Tobin told the Tribune. “Jimmy Lewis will hold that position until we find a permanent replacement.”
Lewis is not only a member of the EMS crew, but is on the Fire District Board as well.
The interim manager, Tobin stated, will focus on reestablishing the lines of communication. The EMS manager will report to clinic director, Delwin Lester.
“EMS will have to come to grips internally with what has happened,” Tobin said.
The board plans to prepare grant applications to help obtain more money for EMS.
“The clinic is attempting to tap into various people in the community with talents to help EMS,” Tobin said. “Especially those who could assist in grant writing and business aspects.”
Not only did EMS lose its leader, but the county lost personnel who could run an ambulance. An ALS EMT can administer medication to a seriously ill patient while in transport in an ambulance. A regular EMT doesn’t have the certification to do that.
Without an ALS, the crew can only run a basic ambulance to Pueblo or other area hospitals, while those with more serious medical emergencies would have to be taken out of the Valley by Flight for Life.
Lester stated that when an ALS medic is needed, the doctors at the clinic can stabilize the patient until Flight for Life arrives.
However, this situation changed as of Wednesday, October 22. Lester contacted the Tribune and announced an ALS medic has been hired.
Adam Anderson, a local resident and an ALS, joined the EMS team to help ease the burden during its time of crisis.
Brandon Chambers, who has been heading the RETAC team for the current state assessment being done on EMS, is reportedly helping to find more ALS personnel.
“I wanted the position filled as fast I could,” Lester said. “Without ALS, we were falling into the category of crisis with EMS.”
Though the situation appeared to have worsened and drew closer to shutting down, the County Commissioners were still unavailable for comment on their plans to assist EMS.
Though an ALS medic has been hired, the current mill levy proposal and more ALS EMTs are needed to bring EMS off its knees.
Czarnota stated that she and previous board member, Chuck Ippolito, will continue to collaborate to build an EMS special district, even though she has moved on to finish her bachelor’s degree.
For information about the EMS earmarked mill levy, Ballot Issue 4A, the public is invited to contact Lester by calling 783-2380.
– J.E. Ward