Silver Lake IDs points to clarify about Salem fire/EMS contract

fire-hose-mf-kconnors-webThe Silver Lake Village Board at a Committee of the Whole meeting Thursday night identified several items they would like clarified about a proposed contract from Salem to serve the village for fire and emergency medical services.

Silver Lake is due to vote on the contract at its Feb. 5 meeting. If approved, Salem could conceivably consider the contract at its regular month meeting scheduled for Feb. 10.

While a list of items was developed, the most radical one was proposed right at the beginning of the discussion by village President Sue Gerber, who said she felt the proposed 10-year term was too long.

“I think that’s quite a long time to set an agreement like this,” Gerber said “Ten years is almost like a complete marriage.”

Instead, Gerber said she would prefer a much shorter term or an escape clause so Salem servicing the village could be treated more like an experiment. The agreement is being considered, she acknowledged, because the Silver Lake Fire Department is having trouble, but she is hopeful new leadership “with some vision” might turn the department around in the future and ¬†eliminate the need to get fire/EMS services from Salem.

Trustee Soti Wilber also expressed a desire for an escape clause, perhaps after three years.

Other questions or items the board felt needed clarification included:

  • Who would pay for utilities for the Silver Lake fire station while it is being leased to Salem.
  • A copy of the appraisals done on the village’s station and equipment.
  • How the Silver Lake station wil be staffed.
  • How yearly fees will be increased.
  • A fee schedule for EMS and whether village residents will be charged as Salem residents.
  • Clarification on who will be liable for accidents that might happen around the Silver Lake fire station.
  • Continuation of fire prevention activities at Riverview School.

Salem is proposing charging Silver Lake about $101,000 after several credits for use of the Silver Lake station, use of SLFD equipment and others for fire and EMS service for the first year of the contract. That’s about $15,000 more than the current village combined budget for the fire department and what it pays to contract with Silver Lake Rescue Squad for EMS.




  1. Skepical says:

    It is my understanding that once Paramedic level service is established in the community, you are committed to continuing that level of service. EMS law in Wisconsin does not allow for reducing the level of service. Knowing this fact, leads one to realize that there really is no “escape clause.” Once Silver Lake enters into this agreement, they will be committed for life.

    That is unless Salem would consider a contract that provides fire service without providing rescue, other than the mutual aid agreement presently in place. Also would there be a difference in the price they are asking, if rescue were not included.

    The same time delay issues that have been discussed to death here, regarding rescue, will be an issue with the proposed contract. Silver Lake Rescue’s medical director strongly rejected the proposal that would require SLRS to wait for a paramedic before transporting a patient. Only this proposal would now require a paramedic to arrive from Salem on EVERY call. It compounds the problem exponentially. Right now, only about 5 or 10 calls in 100 require interception by a paramedic. Why would it be beneficial for every patient to wait an extra 10 min. for a paramedic?

    SLRS and Twin Lakes Rescue operate under medical direction by Burlington Hospital. Salem operates under Kenosha Hospital. I don’t see how this would work.

    And then there is the issue of the cost of a typical call from Salem vs SLRS. I was told most calls from Salem cost the patient about $1200. SLRS calls cost the patient’s insurance between $400 and $600 from what I’ve been told. Resident calls are forgiven for costs that exceed what insurance will pay. That has not been discussed with Salem as yet.

    I believe that the best course for the Village of Silver Lake is to try to negotiate Fire services without changing the way rescue is currently handled. And then Silver Lake should finish negotiating the contract with SLRS and pay them what they have always paid. For two years the village has expected the rescue to survive in spite of arbitrarily just cutting their compensation.

  2. Bernard Punsley says:

    @Skepical: As far as the village “arbitrarily cuttiing SLRS compensation”, the SLFD had their budget hacked to death! I think some of your assertations here are all done with “smoke and mirrors”. Silver Lake will NOT be locked into providing paramedic level service “FOREVER”! The laws regarding paramedic level care have changed dramatically in the last few years. A department is allowed to back and forward, Paramedic, ILS, Basic, as manpower permits. Indeed, a squad may now operate with 1 paramedic and 1 EMT. The Salem Rescue service charges match up pretty squarely with SLRS. Residents will NOT be “double billed” by both entities, eg. paramedic intercept. Medical Direction will come from Kenosha County/United Hospital. Can anyone give us a valid reason that Medical Control should come from another county? Indeed, Salem contracts with SLRS currently to provide 1st response service, and nobody seems to have an issue with where Medical Control is located. Why now? I dont’ know where the “10 minute response” time for Salem to respond with a med unit is coming from. They will be dispatched at the same time as SLRS, and won’t have to wait until SLRS is “on scene” and then determines “we need a paramedic intercept”. THAT’s what is happening NOW, and it unacceptable! SLRS maintains it only happens twice a year……Skepical cites only 5 or 10 calls in 100 warrant that level of care. Well what is it…5 or 10? Residents will NOT have to pay for additional ambulance fees that their insurance will not cover…another scare tactic. As far as having a paramedic respond on every call…..what a tremendous advantage and upgrade in the level of services that will be provided to our citizens. This is a “win win” for everyone….SLRS should get onboard with our village board and help make this a smooth transition as our Fire/EMS services take a giant leap FORWARD.

  3. Skeptical says:

    Bernard, which of your assertions are included in the proposal from Salem? I did not see any of them.

    Where on earth do you get your information about going back and forth with level of care? Certainly, it should be easy for you to provide us with the link to the statutes that explain that. All Wisconsin law is available on line.

    Why do you think it is possible to drive to Silver Lake from Trevor in less than 10 min? Have you been driving that fast? I haven’t.

    Just provide us with the details of the contract. Oh, wait, no one has spoken to Salem about details yet. They just want to vote for an open contract with no details. Any contract should be the product of negotiation. If what you assert is true, put it in writing!

  4. Bernard Punsley says:

    @Skeptical……nice try. Are you trying to say there have been “no negotiaitons”? Absurd. You came up with the ridiculous “fact” that we would be stuck with having to provide paramedic level service “Forever” (your assertion, not mine). I didn’t notice your source for that listed. You and your dissenters constantly refer to the “10 minute delay” for Salem to arrive……ahh….you conveniently leave out the on scene time of the first responders, eg. SLRS. “No one has spoken to Salem about the details yet”….REALLY? You can keep trying to muddle the facts with all the “smoke and mirrors” that you want, both the town and village board members know otherwise and are poised to do the right thing for their respective constituents. keep trying to muddy the waters…..just make sure you don’t drink from it!

  5. Nice work skeptical says:

    Skeptical, thank you for a well informed comment. I will give Bernard his due, although his or her comments are controversial but he makes his or her points, whatever comes out of this silver lake s##tstorm, there is more riding on it then Salem being the right or wrong answer. I believe the Voulunteer fire/rescue service is the most dedicated group of professionals a community could ask for, while the points for paramedic and daytime staff are warranted ,maybe instead of the bs comments on a public website people could put that effort into their community services and make a difference. I have been through the hall of fame in Canton and I don’t remember seeing a Monday morning quarterback wing! Just saying

  6. Really? says:

    So Mr Punsley, you’re saying that Salem will bill our insurance and then write the balance off? I know about 4 people that would beg to differ. I don’t believe that is in the contract either. All you ever say is what people want to hear, not facts. I think it’s ridiculous that residents will have to wait for Salem to come from either the Trevor or Salem station to get ems care. If the board goes with this, they need to make sure Salem will be stationed in the village as SLRS is. The village isn’t upgrading to paramedic care, they already have Salem paramedics. You are playing mind games with people Mr Punsley, for whatever hidden agenda you have, as well as a few others. I think this village needs to work on what we have and work together. Quit trying to give it all away. And a 10 year contract with no way out is ridiculous also. By the end of 10 years, we’ll be paying 200k a year.

  7. @skeptical says:

    If u heard the last meeting there were several questions that were brought up and is being sent to Salem for clarification/negotiation. The board is working to find the best solution for the residents. This is a win win for everyone. Slrs still maintains employment in the village and we get paramedic called out right away. And if we have kept up on Slrs statements they stated only two calls a year. Last year they probably had a dozen. Why is it that once people started paying attention, their calls to Salem went up so much??? Seems kinda odd to me!! Remember there is always more than one side to every story.

  8. Bernard Punsley says:

    @REALLY…….well if all I am doing it telling people “what they want to hear”..what’s wrong with THAT!!! Apparently, the “people are FED UP with the gibberish the whiners and snivellers have been spewing. You accuse me of not providing “facts” , then you whip out the ludicrous “fact” that Silver Lake residents will have to wait for an ambulance to come from Trevor or Salem to provide EMS care…YOUR WORDS, not MINE. You conveniently left out the FACT that there will be FIRST RESPONSE EMS CARE stationed IN Silver Lake. The plan now calls for Salem to contract with SLRS to provide that EMS care, pretty much what they do now! You failed to mention that….did you bother to read the contract? I’m playing “mind games”…..”the village isn’t upgrading to paramedic care..tehy already have Salem paramedics”…..who’s telling “the people” what they want to “hear’ now? And COMPLETELY left out of your conversation is the tremendous upgrade to our FIRE DEPARTMENT!!! Seems some of the SLRS folks conveniently “forget that”. Fortunately, most of our board members see the tremendous benefits of this proposal!

  9. Really? says:

    I have done my research and the previous year there seemed to be a paramedic needed only a couple of times. SLRS has been providing service for years and you are right, all very dedicated, as well as the firefighters, who I think should be given another chance to turn it around. I believe as the President said, some new leadership over there could be what they need. The article I seen about slrs staying on said as first responders, which would be less of a service than they are doing now. They can do so much more than that, but not as first responders, so you are getting less care right away than you do now. Still shocked that Mr Pugsley thinks Salem is going to write everyone’s bills off. I find it hard to believe that our board is going to make this decision in 2 days. The majority of our board members are anxious to get this done before the election because hopefully, the ones that are up for re-election, don’t get re-elected. I think that’s the rush….they refuse to let the people vote on this rescue/fire matter. It’s a shame that the majority of the citizens believe what they read on social media from a few talkers like Mr Pugsley and the like, without attending a single meeting and doing any research and actually getting facts. I’m glad the board is getting those questions they had answered, just can’t believe in two days they can make an appropriate decision.

  10. Concerned says:

    Some members of the board wanted to get this on the Jan. 28th meeting agenda for possible action. How irresponsible was that? Fortunate for us the deadline had passed. Mr. Punsley then accuses Village President Sue Gerber of stall tactics. If Sue had placed something on a meeting agenda not following the rules I am sure Mr. Punsley would be all over that. Seems the board members that wanted it on the 1/28 meeting agenda were just trying to ram this through as quickly as possible. Lets get it passed then we can find out what is in it type of attitude. Looks to me like just another attempt to get rid of SL Rescue Squad. Yes Salem is supposed to contract with them but who knows for how long. Is it even in the agreement or just a bunch of talk? I agree with @skeptical and his point of view. There is much to be negotiated here. We will need to live with this decision for years to come. Our village lawyer should have the opportunity to review any agreements and report her finding to the board for their Now Mr. Punsley has changed his tune and agrees negotiations are in order. Isn’t it interesting that this all started as a way to save the Fire Department and save money? I never did see how combining SLFD and SLRS would have accomplished that. Then the ridiculous plan with Antioch Rescue. It was no longer about saving the FD but that we needed Paramedic coverage. (which we do have now working with Salem). Now this version. At least this one has some hope of helping us have dependable FD service. Why not keep the SLRS as we currently have. Contract out the FD only to Salem? Wasn’t a part of this early on about saving money? With the current plan we will spend more money. And what about costs in future years? Salem is renting/buying our FD trucks and equipment over time, without that our cost would be even more, and will be in the future. In closing I would like to say I believe all our SLFD firemen are doing a great job. This whole thing is not a reflection on their capabilities or professionalism. We simple need more of you. SLRS has also served the community well over the years and hopefully will continue to do so.

  11. Concerned says:

    Under the proposed agreement with Salem for rescue services will Salem have a paramedic on the scene, treating the patient for EVERY rescue call? (of course there will be exceptions for mass casualty situations, etc.) Or will the paramedic be called off when the scene is accessed by EMTs when they arrive on scene? After all do we really need a paramedic for every call?
    If Salem is not having a paramedic at the scene, attending the every patient, is it really any different than we have now?

  12. Fire! Ready! Aim! says:

    Hey Bernie, you seem to be all knowing when it comes to the fire dept. You’ve claimed to be at the dept shaking hands with and getting the pulse of the members. Why dont you join up? Volunteer your time to the community and the SLFD! Instead of just hanging around and gathering info for a news site comment board put your time and energy to some positive use.

    @concerned, very well said!

  13. Bernard Punsley says:

    Ah,,,,,where did you get the idea that I am NOT on the fire department?

  14. Ready! Fire! Aim! says:

    Didnt see a coat for B. Punsley hanging up at the dept! Or maybe you’re like your buddy GG a mythical volunteer fire fighter who only shows up when there is credit to be taken.

  15. davek says:

    You are all talking out your ass except for the one educated comment labeled nice work skeptical. How many of you are directly involved? Now how many of you are in rescue or fire? Now how many of you are set to somehow benefit from a bs situation that ruins something that has worked for years. Do you realize the surrounding communities are only EMT and not paramedic with the exception of Salem? They are doing just fine. This issue started as a monetary thing and now its level of care. Who are you trying to fool. This has been all caused by people with an agenda. That agenda being get rid of silver lake rescue. Your community has become a joke this side of the interstate. You have a lot of money put in to a ridiculous police force but screw the people that volunteer or get paid a dime on a dollar to save your lives. Where do suppose the real cuts should be made. Just sayin! To those of you who are not in the ” business ” I would make sure you know what you are taking about before you sound like a moron on a public forum. For the record this started from this bull sh*t ad hoc committee made up of professionals looking for post retirement employment. Yep I went there.

  16. Bernard Punsley says:

    @davek…….while you are certain entitled to your opinion, your attempt to “set the record straight” is a tad warped. The Ad Hoc Committee was made up of individuals both active and retired in the fire/EMS/law enforcement fields. All pretty dedicated individuals. At NO TIME was “creating jobs” for any of those members ever discussed. I must chuckle at that contention. The SLFD Chief gets paid @$2000/year. The firefighters get $9/$10/$11 per hour , depending on their certifications. Can you cite what “jobs” were going to be created for these individuals? Your assessment that the agenda was to “get rid of the SLRS” is not only incorrect, it’s a DOWNRIGHT LIE! From DAY ONE, the intent was to combine Fire and Rescue under 1 Unified Command. Not 1 SLRS member would lose their job, those that did not wish to be firefighter certified would have been “grandfathered” THAT was the AD HOC COMMITTEE’s primary goal. And from DAY ONE, it became readily apparent that SLRS was going to resist this proposed change at every level. And they did. So as far as being concerned about looking like a moron on a public forum….too late for you, davek. The “farkle factor” gave you away!

  17. Bernard Punsley says:

    @davek……sitting in front of me is a copy of the 2011 Form 990 Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax for Silver Lake Rescue Squad Inc. At the top of the form it states “Open To Public Inspection”. A few noteworthy line items to consider, davek. Line 9/Revenue: $163.959. Total Revenue: $256,192. Now mind you,davek,this is revenue that the SLRS members EARNED through their hard work efforts, no contention there. Now I look down to line 15/Expenses: Salaries/ other compensation/ employee benefits: $134,683.
    Now I look down to line 22/Net assets or fund balances: $364,818. Now davek, I”m not an accountant or a banker. But you claim the ad hoc committee was created to disband the SLRS and create jobs for it’s members(see your post above). I’m pretty sure the Ad Hoc Committee never looked at @$135 grand they could “put in their pockets”!!! Did they look at the revenues created? YOU BET! That’s $$$ that should be going BACK to the taxpayers to help provide BOTH fire and EMS/Paramedic(gasp!) level service to our community, NOT fund a private corporation and their employees. SLRS did not want to give up their “cash cow” and had no interest in upgrading medical care to the community.
    By the way, those are 2011 figures, signed by Carolyn Dodge, Treasurer……add some inflation to push it up as the mountain of cash continues to grow. If you wish to challenge those “facts” davek, the tax return is open for public inspection, One thing I completely agree with, davek. is that “your community” has become a joke this side of the interstate”. That assessment is SPOT ON! But davek…ya kinda tipped your hand, pal. You did not say “OUR COMMUNITY”. Know why? I’m kinda guessing it’s because you, like most of the members of the SLRS, dedicated as they may be , DO NOT LIVE IN OUR COMMUNITY! So spare us the “people with an agenda” babble. Keep on transporting our citizens to Walgreen’s for their medical care. Make sure they have their blue “Walgreen’s Rewards Card ” with them.

  18. Ready! Fire! Aim! says:

    Why wouldn’t the SLRS resist? That’s like saying FedEx (a successfully ran company not run by the gov’t) should have to merge with the USPS (a program going under run by the gov’t) and on top of it the USPS takes control. Now does that make any sense at all? People keep pointing out how much money the SLRS is sitting on well I got news for you that is what a good company does not just spend spend spend. In the real world when a company can’t afford needed equipment they don’t start paying there volunteer workers. Here is the classic case of how a gov’t program is run vs how a real world successful company is run.

  19. Bernard Punsley says:

    @Ready! Fire! Aim! I don’t know what type of drugs you are are your words: “In the real world,when a company can’t afford needed equipment, they don’t start paying their volunteer workers’ I quoted the $134,633 “salaries/compensation/ employee benefits figure on line 15 of SLRS 2011 tax return, on TOP of their line 22 “net assets” $364, 818 figure. The founding members of the SLRS, in fact most of their members, would CRINGE at the fact the Silver Lake Rescue Squad members are PAID FOR THEIR SERVICES.
    Mind you, I think they are worth every penny and understand they are not paid for all of the time and services they put in. My point? THE SLRS was founded on serving our community. Even when “paid per call” funds started, most of the dedicated members refused to accept any payment for their services preferring to be true “volunteers’. Those days are GONE folks! Most of the SLRS members(dedicated as they may be) are #1:NOT MEMBERS OF OUR COMMUNITY. #2 ARE NOT WORKING FOR FREE”. Our village board has virtually NO control over them, save for whatever contractual language is in place. And Ready! Fire” Aim! have just CONFIRMED that SLRS resisted from the very start! WHY…
    You folks “across the tracks” can keep playing the “we are dedicated to serving the community card” all you want……dedicated as long as those of us that live here cough up $27,000 annually, on TOP of whatever you charge us for your service when you respond to our homes. Oh..those calls are “free”’re a “volunteer” company” If I drive myself to Walgreens and then call for SLRS assistance, will I get some type of rewards rebate?

  20. Bernard Punsley says:

    @Ready! Fire! Aim! You REALLY tipped your hand to what you think the SLRS is REALLY all about…the “bottom line”…the “corporate profit”..that a “real world successful company” would run. If that gets in the way of providing paramedic level services to our “customers”..oops..’citizens”…well thats’ just too bad. Our 1099 form and “corporate image” are much more important to us that our “service to our community”. THAT is the REAL WORLD mentality of SLRS. Their founding members would be appalled! RESIST..RESIST…RESIST.

  21. Bernard Punsley says:

    @Readt! Fire! Aim! And your ” real world successful company”, SLRS, has NO PROBLEM accepting $27,000 of our GOVERNMENT TAX MONIES to run their company, on TOP of the CHARGES FOR SERVICES TO OUR TAXPAYING CITIZENS. So..”the government” give you $27,000, then IF you have to come to my house, I get charged on top of that. SO…in reality,….your “bottom line” is the PROFIT MARGIN, bolstered by not only “government funding”, but “customer funding” as well. That’s a pretty slick business model. One the founding fathers of the Silver Lake Rescue Squad would be ashamed of. But you keep boasting about it… “mountain of cash” continues to grow!! SLICK!

  22. Skeptical says:

    If anyone has any idea why bullying is considered by society and the news as something that is a concern and is harmful, please play close attention to the words of @Bernard Punsley on this forum.

    Bernard, you keep complaining of SLRS’s mountain of cash…might we point out that those assets include trucks, buildings, equipment? SLRS has been able to maintain itself for over 50 years, even though a new ambulance costs about $200,000.

    The village, when “controlling” a department does not plan for replacement and maintenance. The independent corporation that provides for rescue, with a non-profit status, sits on assets so that replacement and maintenance can take place. Of course, they have to come out a little ahead each year…the equipment is extremely expensive.

    I have always wondered how you expected to combine the departments. Can you explain now how that would have worked? Would the fire department just take over the corporation’s assets? Can government just swallow private business? The much touted ad hoc committee spoke often of rescue being the “CASH COW.” i thought they were just talking about the money insurance companies are willing to pay for ambulance transports. But obviously from your obsession about the mountain of cash you speak of over and over, you also think they have cash.

  23. Really? says:

    Bernard, you are annoying. I am glad we have a service in this village that isn’t in the hole money-wise. The fact that they have some money in the bank, shows that they have good leadership. Do you know what all that medical equipment costs? 100 grand wouldn’t buy a whole lot of it. And so what if they are getting paid a few dollars to go on a rescue services call. Most of those people over there seem to have full time jobs from what I heard. Maybe it’ll put some gas in their cars to get there and for all the time they’ve given up to sit there and wait for calls. I’m sure the only way they got people from outside the village to help out is because they are giving them a few dollars. Again, good leadership. Quit trying to turn it around like they are screwing this village so you can get salem in here for your own little hidden agenda. We all know about your hidden agenda. The whole dang village does. Why don’t you move on over to salem and feed them your lies. I, along with other citizens, are sick of hearing it. You won’t even use your real name, yet we all know who you are. 27 thousand a year for a company to provide life saving services is cheap. I believe you probably have heard what other services charge. I doubt that even pays their insurance. And in this day in age with so many people not having health insurance, how many people don’t even pay them for the calls they go on? The problem is and has been the fire dept. The problem is that the fire dept is not profitable. Salem probably doesn’t just want the fire dept, but if rescue was in it, they probably do. How about we fix the fire dept? Put some people in charge the village can trust and work on that. Rescue isn’t broke, fire is. Let’s keep what belongs to us. I seen on the other article about the homeowner’s insurance and that post is correct, according to my insurance company. If Salem gets the contract, all of our homeowner’s insurance is going to go way up. I don’t know about you, but I’m on a tight budget. I need fire to stay here. I too am considering relocating over all of this nonsense. You keep trying to convince people that “oh boy, we’ll have paramedic service,” when the contract doesn’t say a paramedic will even be on every call. How many paramedics does Salem have? Are they going to staff more people to cover us? Is slr going to even work with them? If not, will they staff people here and an ambulance? All these unanswered questions, yet 3 or 4 of our board members are ready to sign a contract without knowing the answers to it all. And the yearly increase? Where are we going to come up with all that money? You already have salem paramedics when you need them, but keep playing mind games with the citizens Mr Pugsley.

  24. Bernard Punsley says:

    @Skeptical…”the village, when ‘controlling’ a department does not plan for replacement and maintenance”(your words, not mine!). BINGO!!!!!!! So when SLFD replaced all their equipment that was lost in the fire, at one time, the village board did not plan for future replacement down the road…evident by the latest budget providing for NO replacement costs! The SLRS is able to stay in business because of the money they make charging surrounding communities, including Silver Lake, to provide EMS services, on TOP of the money they generate for transporting patients. There never was ANY TALK at the Ad Hoc Committee level of the village “taking away” or “absorbing” SLRS’s assets. The “mountain of cash” would have remained for them to do whatever they felt like. Assets(eg. ambulances, supplies, etc.) would have had to be “purchased” by the village. Having both entities under “government control” under a single UNIFIED COMMAND, maximizing services with cross trained Fire/EMS personnel was the initial goal. Anyone who tells you differently is flat out LYING! The Ad Hoc Committee never got to those final details as the process got “railroaded” right out of town! @REALLY? And your alternatives are? Your assessment “the fire department is not profitable””(your words, not mine!) is priceless. So we will pay people from “outside the village(your words, not mine!)to come here to ride SLRS, but we can’t pay our own citizens a stipend to staff our fire station? Much less provide them with the adequate equipment to do the job? I find that “annoying”! Keep those “mind games” coming…..and please…keep reading my posts. The intellectual reflections that keep pouring out of my detractors is truly remarkable!!!

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