Siouxland Paramedics

An ambulance leaves Siouxland Paramedics for a medical call in early 2016. Woodbury County on Tuesday will propose a property tax increase that would help the county fund 24/7 paramedic response in the wake of Siouxland Paramedics ceasing to respond to 911 calls. 

Justin Wan, Sioux City Journal file

NORTH SIOUX CITY | The fire district that includes North Sioux City and Dakota Dunes plans to partner with Sioux City for paramedic services beginning next year.

Such an arrangement will allow the district to move toward its ultimate goal of staffing its own 24/7 paramedic response in the near future. 

The Dakota Valley Fire District board on Tuesday voted 5-0 to approve a concept that will allow Sioux City Fire Rescue's new Emergency Medical Services Division to provide paramedic service within the district's boundaries beginning next year. 

The agreement must still be finalized and go before the Sioux City Council for approval early next year. But district leaders say Sioux City will start assisting with paramedic service beginning Jan. 1 even as the details are hammered out.  

"I think this is a wonderful resolution," board president Aaron Tyler told the Journal. "It's given us time to build a good foundation for an EMS service for our own community while partnering up with a great community, Sioux City, to help."

For many years, the district -- which encompasses North Sioux City, Dakota Dunes, Big Sioux Township and Wynstone -- has had an agreement with Siouxland Paramedics to provide ambulance services. 

Siouxland Paramedics, however, has announced it will no longer provide emergency services after Jan. 1, citing financial difficulties. 

North Sioux City Fire Department has since prepared itself to begin responding to ambulance calls within city limits. Under its agreement with Sioux City, North Sioux would provide first response to a scene with its own ambulance, but in cases where advanced assistance is needed, Sioux City would then respond with a paramedic and transport the patient using a Sioux City ambulance.

Sioux City would then require the district to guarantee an amount per patient that would be paid to Sioux City. Sioux City would bill each patient, but if it only collects a portion of the guaranteed amount set forth in the agreement, Dakota Valley would make up the difference. The agreement would also include a minimum amount per year.

Dollar amounts are among the details being finalized. 

North Sioux City Fire Chief Bill Pappas said the department is looking at hiring enough paramedics to provide 24/7 response in the future, which would cut down on paramedic response times. 

Due to state budget restraints, such a move would require an "opt-out" vote by the public next year to raise taxes to fund the new positions. 

In the interim, he said, he feels good about the current resolution. 

"It took us a long time to get here, but I think this is the right way to go," Pappas said. 

Sioux City Fire Rescue officials have said such a partnership with Dakota Valley could allow them to employ a few additional paramedics. The city's new EMS Division currently plans to wield a staff of 27 employees. 

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