2019 brings changes to emergency medical services in Silver Lake, Randall and Wheatland

The turn of the new year has brought changes to how residents of Silver Lake and some residents of Randall and Wheatland receive emergency medical services.

Silver Lake Rescue Squad discontinued operations as of Dec. 31. The municipal governments of Randall and Wheatland contracted with Twin Lakes Rescue to cover the portions of their towns that were covered by Silver Lake Rescue in the past. In Silver Lake, EMS will now be provided solely by Salem Lakes Fire/Rescue, which had been sending paramedics to medical calls there since the former village of Silver Lake contracted with the then town of Salem for fire protection and EMS services in 2015. Silver Lake and Salem eventually merged into the village of Salem Lakes in 2017.

Salem Fire/Rescue and the renamed Salem Lakes Fire/Rescue had been contracting with Silver Lake Rescue Squad to respond to medical calls in Silver Lakes and sending a Salem Lakes paramedic as well to Silver Lake calls, said Salem Lakes Chief Mike Slover. This summer, Salem Lakes gave notice that it was going to cancel that contract and handle transportation of all patients in the Silver Lake area when needed. Salem Lakes was interested in still contracting with Silver Lake Rescue to act as first responders in Silver Lake, Slover said.

That change in role in Silver Lake, however, made it not feasible for Silver Lake Rescue to continue in service, said Dean Fryda, Silver Lake Rescue’s last chief. Almost 70 percent of Silver Lake Rescue’s calls were in Silver Lake.

Transportation of patients to hospitals is a key because that is what can be billed and produce revenue.

“Without Silver Lake, there was no way we could continue,” Fryda said.

Another hit to Silver Lake Rescue’s revenue — though certainly a benefit for people — has been safety improvements at the Wilmot Mountain ski facility, Fryda said. The facility was located in a part of Randall covered by Silver Lake Rescue. Due to safety improvements made by new owner Vail Resorts, medical calls at the ski hill have decreased considerably, Fryda said

This fall, Randall and Wheatland town officials, learning of the situation, also served notice that they would not be renewing their contracts with Silver Lake Rescue. Randall and Wheatland both had been covered for EMS partly by Silver Lake Rescue and partly by Twin Lakes Rescue. Both Randall and Wheatland ended up contacting with Twin Lakes Rescue to cover their entire municipalities.

Randall and Wheatland were each paying Silver Lake Rescue $7,500 and Twin Lakes Rescue $15,000 per year. The new contracts with Twin Lakes Rescue will have each municipality paying Twin Lakes Rescue $25,000 in the first year, $27,500 in the second year and $30,000 in the third year, an increase of $7,500 from 2018 EMS costs by the third year.

In Silver Lake, which lies in the village of Salem Lakes, residents will now be served by Salem Lakes paramedic crews without assistance from Silver Lake Rescue. Salem Lakes Fire/Rescue leadership is considering whether that means a crew should be staffed in Silver Lake at perhaps the former fire department building or perhaps at the Wilmot fire station, Slover said. Another possibility would be utilizing the Silver Lake Rescue station in Silver Lake. That property is owned by Salem Lakes and is leased to Silver Lake Rescue. The Salem Lakes Village Board has an item on its Monday meeting agenda to consider an extension of the the lease to allow Silver Lake Rescue more time to figure what it will do with its equipment in the building.

The Salem Lakes Village Board did approve in the fall the hiring of four additional firefighter/paramedics in part due to the increased workload from the Silver Lake change, Slover said.

Fryda said in late December that no decision had been made on what to do with Silver Lake’s two ambulances. The agenda for the Monday Wheatland Town Board meeting includes an item about Twin Lakes Rescue leasing a SLRS ambulance.

Though Silver Lake Rescue had established a deep relationship with Silver Lakes residents through its 59-year history, Fryda said he wanted residents to know he feels they will still be well taken care of by Salem Lakes Fire/Rescue.

“I don’t want people to worry in the village,” Fryda said. “Absolutely don’t worry about it. Salem is going to take great care of people here. I don’t want them to worry.”

Slover said his department will strive to keep the level of service top notch.

“We are going to continue to provide the highest level of service we can in Western Kenosha County,” Slover said.

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