Factions trade barbs on paramedic service at special Silver Lake meeting

silver-lake-VHProponents on the Silver Lake Village Board favoring staying with Silver Lake Rescue Inc. on one side and exploring contracting with Antioch Rescue Squad on the other side debated the issue of paramedic service for the village at a special board meeting Wednesday at Riverview School.

There was no vote on the matter. Trustee Michael Decker was absent. This was Trustee Paul Snellen’s first meeting.

Most of the verbal back and forth took place between Trustee Patrick Dunn, who favors exploring a contract with Antioch Rescue, and village President Sue Gerber and Trustee Barbara Ironside, who are not in favor of pursuing a contract with Antioch and instead want to continue with Silver Lake Rescue.

The search for EMS service is prompted by the Salem Town Board’s lack of action on an agreement for Salem Fire/Rescue to provide emergency medical services to the village, with Silver Lake Fire Department firefighters acting as first responders. That arrangement, approved by the Silver Lake Village Board in March, was the result of  over a year’s worth of discussion of options. It also meant the village would not be contracting for EMS with Silver Lake Rescue Squad Inc. for the first time in over 30 years. Money saved by not contracting with Silver Lake Rescue was earmarked to pay for staffing the fire department.

Last week, the board received three bids for paramedic services, from Medix/Curtis, Antioch Rescue Squad and Silver Lake Rescue Squad Inc.

Dunn began Wednesday’s discussion by suggesting that the board not consider Medix/Curtis as their proposal would cost the village $300,000 a year.

Dunn also contended that Silver Lake Rescue’s bid was improper because the squad relies on paramedic intercept while the bid asked for bids to provide paramedic service.

Next, Dunn cited a report from the doctor who is the director of emergency medical services for Kenosha County that says there were 32 EMS calls this year in which Silver Lake Rescue Squad should have called for paramedic intercept but did not.

“Silver Lake Rescue  is possibly putting our citizens in harm’s way by not calling for paramedic intercept,” Dunn said.

Gerber disputed Dunn’s interpretation of the cited report and said the conclusion put forth by Dunn was not supported by Silver Lake Rescue’s medical director.

Dunn then said he recommended the board pursue a contract negotiation with Antioch Rescue, which in the submitted bid proposed a $7,000 annual fee to the village.

Gerber criticized the Antioch bid on several counts.

She expressed doubt that the approximately 8 mile trip one way from downtown Antioch to Silver Lake could be made in less than 10 to 20 minutes.

Gerber also was critical of the fact that Antioch Rescue is currently not licensed in Wisconsin. Last week, an Antioch Rescue Squad representative said he felt the squad could respond in Silver Lake under the mutual aid or MABAS system while working toward a Wisconsin license. But Gerber said she did not feel comfortable with that.

“I cannot consciously accept a plan where we don’t even know if they will get a Wisconsin license,” Gerber said. “When they get their license … come back and talk to us.”

Trustee Barbara Ironside suggested putting the matter to a referendum. Dunn contended the issue did not qualify for a referendum, and then abruptly motioned for adjournment at about 7:45 p.m. after about 45 minutes of discussion.

No citizen comment was allowed.

The board’s next scheduled meeting is Wednesday, July 17.




  1. Andrew J says:

    This issue needs to be resolved, and immediately. Consider how much time, effort and resources have been spent since this all came to light. The way I see it and over the course of that time time, this Village board has wasted AT LEAST an amount equal to the yearly fee proposed by Silver Lake Rescue. In my opinion, you’ve cost us at least $40k (salaries, studies, etc) in an attempt to save what, $20k?

    Buck up, adult children. Stop wasting our time, and stop wasting our money. Stop embarrassing us, for crying out loud. Maybe what our village needs is a fresh start; no incumbents, no past affiliations with the Village board …. fire the entire group and re-elect NEW faces and FRESH initiatives. Silver Lake has become the laughing stock of Kenosha county over this. Work on bringing some businesses to our town, and quit twiddling your thumbs.

  2. Joe says:

    Here is what I don’t understand. Why does Silver Lake rescue not just get the training and equipment necessary to provide paramedic level service? It seems all the bickering is all due to the fact Silver Lake rescue needs to contract out those services to departments such as Salem. If that’s not the case, then there is some “inside” BS going on here.

  3. sandy says:

    I would like to know why SLRS has not already upgraded to Paramedic. They keep talking about not having enough call volume to do so, but they only continue to reference the number of calls in Silver Lake. Don’t they service other municipalities and the ski hill??? How can they continue to put out information in regards to their call volume without include those numbers in as factors for them to upgrade??? Also, from my understanding, if you have a broken bone or are unconscious (which I would imagine are 99% of the calls from the ski hill, right??) why are they responding and not a paramedic. They cannot issue pain meds to those people and then have to transport them 25-30 minutes away to the hospital and hope it doesn’t take any longer due to bad weather. Where is the concern for all of those people??? SLRS continues to say that they are here for the community and for the citizens, but you know the saying, actions speak louder than words!!! Also, out of 89 ALS calls, last year they state that only 2 required a paramedic. I find that very hard to believe. How can you say that you can bill a patient for that level of care but you don’t give them the entire benefit of that service. My understanding if you are having a seizure, or require pain meds, etc… you need a paramedic. Why would you want to put the lives of someone who would require a higher level of care in your hands instead of calling in a paramedic to help that person out. It comes down to the $$$. If they get a paramedic intercept, they have to pay them. No one talks about that part do they??? I just can’t believe anything they say anymore. It deeply saddens me that people who have taken an oath to protect our community, are only thinking of their pocket books and not the patient. I really wish that some of these people would step forward and let the community know the real stories!!!

  4. Bernard Punsley says:

    Trustee Michael Decker was “absent”…..to quote Gomer Pyle..”why Golly…Surprise, Surprise, Surprise”.

  5. Lynda says:

    This board is a joke. They argue and cut each other off and act like middle school girls. I was ashamed that Paul S’s first meeting had to be as contentious as it was. He has to be wondering why he even brought his name forth to be a part of this circus. Sham, shame, board of S.Lk.

  6. Mike says:

    There are real concerns from citizens who want Paramedic Rescue Services in SL. But Silver Lake Rescue refuses, so the community turns elsewhere to see if it cannot contract that important service for it’s resdients.
    It seems to me that if SLRS, instead of lambasting everyone who wants upgraded services for themselves and their family, and attacks them at every turn, would just agree to upgrade, then situation solved. Are they perhaps too lazy, or maybe just not accomplished enough as a group, or not confident enough to upgrade their services?
    They have heard the criticism, but refuse to put down their detractors with one simple statement: ‘Hey, we have heard your concerns and in one year we will be Paramedic level, period. No ifs and or buts, we will take the one year to upgrade, and if not we invite the village to find alternative Paramedic services’. This turmoil would all be over with because everyone gets what they want.
    Instead they dig in their heals and throw stones at citizens who have honest concerns about public safely.
    I am tired of their act. They could make it real easy on this board and the divided community that they swear they are sworn to serve.
    Upgrade now, and put this all to bed already!

  7. Tired of all of the BS says:

    I think it is time for Salem to take over Silver Lake, our taxes may go down, and we would all benefit from there services. I know for sure that if someone in my family needs help I will ask for Salem only to respond or drive to 50 and then call. THIS IS STARTING TO GET SCAREY!!
    Maybe flip flop Ironsides has a better idea?

  8. It costs a lot of money to become a paramedic squad. The members could not be expected to train to that level and pay for their own schooling. The representative from Curtis/Medix explained that the number of hours of retraining and practice would almost require every paramedic to work full time somewhere else just to keep up the skills as required by the state. He stated it was impractical.

    Silver Lake Village isn’t even willing to pay the $27,000 now. How would they afford the necessary increase to train and maintain SLRS as paramedic? How would they afford the upgrade of drugs and equipment needed on the ambulance?

    Don’t think the upgrade to paramedic is something free. Right now we’ve got to figure out how to afford a fire department. One thing at a time.

  9. Will it ever get better? says:

    From what it sounds like, Wisconsin doesn’t just hand out licensing for paramedic service to anyone. There has to be a large call volume to have it make sense to even have paramedic service. If you were at the meeting last night, you would know that a paramedic ambulance costs about $500,000 a year and SLRS has two of them. What would they have to charge the village if they went paramedic? The village apparently can’t afford to pay the $27,000 they are providing service for. Do you realize how many medications a paramedic ambulance has to carry? Do any of you realize the training involved and the cost of it to become paramedic? What would SLRS have to charge for all of that? If understand that the long term goal is to get ems into the fire dept and I think that’s great, but how about if the fire dept gets on it’s feet first and we concentrate on making that work and leave what is already working, alone? I feel like a few members of our board have hidden agendas. Honestly, what do they have against SLRS? Has anyone asked them why they don’t want them? I’d like to hear that answer. They’d rather contract with Antioch? This village is in trouble.

  10. Bernard Punsley says:

    To “Will It Ever Get Better”….you state paramedic ambulances cost about $500,000/year,and that SLRS has 2 of them. Those are your figures, not mine. That’s $1 million annually that SLRS spends on paramedic ambulances? Let’s say you are correct. Where did SLRS get a million dollars for their 2 “paramedic ambulances”? FROM RESCUE SQUAD TRANSPORT CHARGES(+ the $27,000 “annual “hostage fee” they charge the village). SLFD wanted a piece of the pie to help sustain their organization, all SLRS was willing to offer was a piece of “humble pie”. If you want to toss figures around, ask SLRS what their annual balance sheet is. They can call themselves “non profit” all they want. To their credit, their organization is pretty self-sustaining. They are dedicated folks who want to serve the community. But they don’t do it without the ambulance fees. They know it and they aren’t about to give up their little cash cow(until CONSOLIDATION knocks them off of their lofty perch). Always remember, SLRS was offered the option of joining SLFD in an attempt to STRENGTHEN both entities. Does that sound like some board members had “hidden agendas” against Rescue? I’m having trouble with your rationalization here.

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