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County moves to fill another key job vacancy

Sep 20, 2013 - By Eric Blom Staff Writer

Fremont County decided this week to begin advertising for a new ambulance department director.

Commissioners will continue revising the job description as they open the position to applicants.

The ambulance department head position is the third open job being hired through the county. The other two are with the county museums and library system.

Lander station chief Todd Smith has filled in as interim director since July 11 when the former director stepped down.

Challenges

The new ambulance director will face the move from mostly part-time employees to a largely full-time staff.

The county board in July approved a $2.8 million budget for the department that called for changing the status of 26 employees to full-time.

The new budget also provides for an ambulance crew to be stationed in Dubois, which would require around-the-clock staffing.

Furthermore, federal-level changes to the accreditation process for medics could require Fremont County to have more emergency medical technicians certified as paramedics than it does now.

Such a move would require hiring highly-trained personnel or having current EMTs pursue more education.

A new ambulance chief would also have to make some personnel decisions: The ambulance budget the commission passed in July created a new training officer position, and Smith has held off on filling that job so the permanent director can decide if it is needed, or if the department should spend the money elsewhere.

Focus

At their meeting, commissioners had different ideas about the focus of the director position.

Commissioner Keja Whiteman thought the county should look for a strong administrator, but not someone who necessarily has a strong background in medicine.

"You may not need a person who's an expert in direct care, but you need an expert in grants management (and) personnel management," she said. "I think you need a professional director; they would rely on ambulance staff and people with a clinical background to assess the clinical side."

Sminth encouraged commissioners to think about the applicants' abilities to communicate with the medical community.

"I think you need to show the aspect that they need some background in medical services," he said.

Having a director with some background in emergency medicine would be good for morale and allow that person to fill in on ambulance calls if necessary, commission chairman Doug Thompson said.

"I'm not geared so tightly on the administration that I'm willing to (be) lax on the qualifications side of it," he said.

The county board agreed to continue tweaking the job description while including an abbreviated version of it in a job posting they are to publish. Commissioners also have yet to decide on what salary to publicize.

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