Sheridan could serve as model for emergency services statewide

Joseph Beaudet with The Sheridan Press, via the Wyoming News Exchange

SHERIDAN — Sheridan and Campbell counties’ partnership for emergency medical services could serve as a prime example for other areas in Wyoming.


Jen Davis, a senior policy advisor in Gov. Mark Gordon’s office, provided an update on a working group’s recommendations to better serve Wyoming’s population with emergency response during a Joint Labor, Health and Social Services Committee meeting Friday. The recommendations are part of Gordon’s desire to continue to regionalize EMS services, as has been done in Sheridan County.


Davis recommended an appropriation of $5 million to support local entities coming together to determine what additional services are needed in an area.


“The recommendation I have today is not the end all, be all for sure, but we all think it’s a step in the right direction where we can help stabilize the system a little bit more over the next couple of years,” Davis said.


Davis added the opportunity would allow several different groups to come together and allow entities to determine what each area looks like.


“Maybe it’s multiple counties, maybe it’s fire and EMS in one county. It could look different in each area,” she said. “But, they could put forward a simple application to get some support, some grant funding that would allow them to hire somebody to coordinate their efforts.”


Entities would submit applications for the funds, should they be appropriated, to hire somebody to help support coordination efforts. Davis said the working group is hoping to encourage emergency service groups to come together, which could help improve communication and transparency, and hoping to gain a better understanding of EMS in Wyoming.


A survey of 20 of the state’s 40 EMS agencies showed “that either now, or within the next year, they anticipate a need for 224 staff,” Wyoming EMS Association President Luke Sypherd said. 


Sypherd added extrapolating the data to the entire state would make 448 staff, or about 40% of the current EMS workforce in Wyoming.


Sheridan and Campbell counties are an example of two areas coming together to collaborate on and regionalize EMS services. 


Sheridan County previously had a private ambulance service, but Sheridan City Council voted to terminate the contract — the contract with the county expired November 2022 — and put out a request for proposals. The city and county ultimately partnered with Campbell County to introduce Wyoming Regional EMS in the area, voting September 2022 to approve the contract.


“I actually think it’s a pretty good study of what’s possible,” Co-Chair Sen. Fred Baldwin, R-Kemmerer, said.


The collaboration has helped to provide more efficient emergency services to rural communities in the area.


“You hear Campbell County or Sheridan County and you think of Gillette and you think of Sheridan,” Baldwin said. “But, when you really think about it, this is a lot of small areas that have really struggled for EMS service that are now incorporated into this much larger organization.”


Rep. Ben Hornok, R-Cheyenne, suggested using funds already allocated to the governor’s office, rather than increasing the state budget by $5 million. Hornok acknowledged, though, that $5 million is not much money in the grand scheme of the state’s budget.


“I have a hard time as a Wyomingite and looking at the amount of money our state spends and thinking that there’s so much heartburn over $5 million or $10 million or whatever the amount might be,” Sypherd said.


Co-Chair Rep. Dan Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, said he and other committee members would pen a letter or offer support for the appropriation during the upcoming budget session.


This story was published on September 26. 


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