Jason Nelson stepped down as director of Allen County’s Emergency Medical Services at Tuesday’s county commission meeting. His resignation, effective Jan. 31, came after a five-minute executive session.
Nelson later told the Register he was leaving to take a position as a flight paramedic with LifeTeam, a critical care ambulance service that has been in Kansas since 2001. It operates helicopter, fixed wing and ground ambulances.
His initial assignment will be in Liberal, Nelson said. He has directed Allen County ambulance service since November 2008.
After accepting Nelson’s resignation, commissioners started to consider an interim director, but then deferred action after noting that Tom Williams and Jim Talkington will take seats Tuesday held today by Rob Francis and Gary McIntosh.
Dick Works, the lone holdover, and the two new commissioners will have two and a half weeks to decide who will replace Nelson, either part or full time.
IOLA ADMINISTRATOR Carl Slaugh told commissioners he couldn’t predict whether Iola council members would hire Terry Call to pursue collection of ambulance bills for the city.
That has been proposed in the wake of the city having been able to collect less than 50 of its billings. The county, with Call at the helm, has a record of collecting 75 to 80 percent.
Some council members think having Call involved with city collections might help pave the way of a merger of the two ambulance services, Slaugh said.
“Others think it might discourage a merger,” he added.
The two services evolved in 2008 when the county proposed to take full control and Iola decided to have its own service within the city. Allen County provides service outside of Iola, with two ambulances stationed here, one in Humboldt and one in Moran.
The ambulance designated for Humboldt has been out of service a few days, since striking a deer on U.S. 54 when returning from a patient transfer to Wichita.
Nelson said he was awaiting authorization from the county’s insurance carrier, EMC, to have the ambulance repaired. Works instructed Nelson to have repairs made, saying that insurance payments could be worked out later.
Slaugh told commissioners that Fred Heismeyer, who moderated a meeting between Iola and county governing bodies to discuss a merger of ambulance service, was prepared for a second meeting on Feb. 5 at the Bowlus Fine Arts Center.
“He has a one-page agenda ready,” Slaugh said, with anticipation the meeting will be a continuation of discussions from the first in December.
Also, Slaugh said he would invite candidates for Iola’s next council and mayor — all will be elected April 2 — to the meeting.
Iolans will elect eight council members, two from each ward, and a mayor. The filing deadline for Iola council and mayoral candidates, as well as for other city and school positions in the county, is noon Jan. 22.