Texas man to be offered county ambulance director's position

Jan 15, 2014 By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

Commissioners voted 4-1 to select Joseph Zillmer after an executive session Tuesday, with commission vice-chairwoman Keja Whiteman casting the lone contrary vote.

The Fremont County Ambulance Department is one step closer to having a director after the Fremont County Commission voted to offer the job to Joseph Zillmer, of Amarillo, Texas.

The emergency medical service has been operating under interim director Todd Smith since its previous director resigned in July.

Commissioners voted 4-1 to select Zillmer after an executive session Tuesday. Commission vice-chairwoman Keja Whiteman cast the lone contrary vote. The county board did not discuss the pick in open meeting.

The offer is for a salary of $55,000 a year, with benefits

Zillmer has not said yet if he would take the job. The commission's ambulance department liaison, Larry Allen, planned to offer the job to Zillmer on Wednesday afternoon.

On Wednesday morning, Allen said Zillmer "has the experience to do it" but chose not to comment further on the decision because he did not know if Zillmer would accept the offer.

The new ambulance director will contend with some serious challenges. First, Fremont County's ambulance department is planning to operate at a loss, to the tune of $600,000 a year, until its $1.6 million reserve is drained. Officials also report that fewer and fewer people volunteer with emergency medical services every year, and the department is changing to have more full-time, paid positions.

The county board interviewed Zillmer and two other men by telephone for the ambulance director job in December.

Zillmer owns and operates a medical transportation consulting company, and over the past several decades has worked as a paramedic and an EMS instructor and in leadership roles in emergency medical organizations.

"I would hope if I could have a long-term relationship with Fremont County, we would have one of the best, if not the best, services in Wyoming, where we would have good treatment outcomes, where the community is proud of what we do, and where we're self-sustaining as much as possible," Zillmer said in his interview.

Zillmer has worked with rural ambulance services that relied on volunteers before, he said. He thought it was important to treat volunteers as professionals on equal footing with paid staff. He also said recognition is important.

"I think every year there ought to be a banquet for the volunteers separate from the professionals," he said.

He also spoke about recruiting high school students to enter a career in emergency medicine and said he has worked with high schools in the past.

Zillmer's interview at times hit a personal note when he described looking for a job in a rural ambulance department and his fondness for the West and Wyoming in particular.

"I would like to have a little piece of land up there with an old country home on it, and work up there until you guys kick me out," he said.

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