Supervisors hear of status of EMS in Benton County

By Jim Magdefrau

VINTON – Ben Kurka, county EMS director, discussed emergency medical services in Benton County and updated the State EMS essential service plan at the Aug. 24 meeting of the Benton County Board of Supervisors in Vinton.

He explained the challenges EMS faced with Covid, including equipment and personnel. He credited dedicated people throughout the county for providing ambulance services. The populous of EMS providers is aging. Costs keep going up.

There are three transport agencies in Benton County, with North Benton, Belle Plaine and Blairstown. The other cities provide a first responder service. Another challenge is having enough people on the service during the day. As for being an essential service, EMS historically is not regarded as essential. Essential services are police and fire. Each county can declare EMS as essential. Kurka asked the board if they would do a resolution to declare EMS as essential. After the resolution, they will set up an advisory council for EMS. The council is to determine the cost of EMS. He sees an advantage in setting up a county-wide model that brings everybody to the table, making sure they can reach everyone in the county.

The board discussed varying drive times for ambulances to area hospitals, and how billing is done with ambulances.

Supervisor Richard Primmer felt the board would support EMS as an essential service for Benton County. No action was taken.

Other business

The board discussed and approved updated Covid policy guidelines, focusing on whom to contact, and what to do when an employee has been exposed to someone with Covid and if they have to quarantine. The “meat” of the policy will remain the same. Chairman Tracy Seeman did not vote, saying he did not agree with Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines. It was approved on a 2-0 vote.

Kyle Helland was at the meeting to get approval of a resolution and final plat for Hackett Point Addition to Benton County.

The board discussed the Racom system with Scott Hansen, Benton County Emergency Management. This is a radio communication system. The cost is over $7 million. They also discussed the need for a new tower. The board agreed to move forward on this, with help from American Rescue Act funds.

A land use hearing was held for Matt Dulin for land in Section 22, Taylor Township. He plans to put up a dwelling and a building on the site. It is currently a campground. The driveway is in compliance. There will be a new septic system and he plans to drill a well.

A class B liquor license was approved for the Blairstown Sauerkraut Days Beer Tent.

The board approved use of the courthouse lawn to the historical society for a civil war re-enactment during Boomtown, Aug. 28.

The board approved use of the courthouse lawn for Vinton Parks and Recreation for Oct. 30 2021.

An equity transfer agreement was approved with Cedar Valley Ranch.

The board acknowledged the resignation of Pat Stepanek from the Benton Development Group and appointed Heather Rinderknecht to the group.

The board will have a budget amendment hearing on Oct. 5 at 9:30 a.m.

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