SIOUX CITY | Sioux City has named a current Siouxland Paramedics command officer as the future director of the city's EMS division.

The announcement comes as the city is steeped in the process of hiring 27 full-time equivalent positions before the end of the year to form the brand-new division, which will take over in-town 911 services from Siouxland Paramedics beginning Jan. 1.

Sioux City Fire Rescue Chief Tom Everett told the Journal the city has hired Jim Haden, a veteran with Siouxland Paramedics, to head the new city division.

Siouxland Paramedics, a 37-year-old nonprofit ambulance service, informed the city in mid-August that it would no longer offer 911 services in Sioux City or North Sioux City after the year's end, prompting the City Council in mid-September to vote 3-1 to take over ambulance services in Sioux City limits as a civilian division under Sioux City Fire Rescue. 

Under current plans, the city will place ambulances staffed by two EMTs apiece at fire stations 1, 3 and 4 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and at stations 3 and 4 from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. Backup ambulances will sit at stations 5, 7 and 8,

The plan will mean approximately $600,000 in additional expenses for the city, according to estimates. There could also be additional start-up costs. Everett said various purchases for the new division will come before the City Council in coming weeks.

Everett said 16 people applied from the top position. Haden brings 29 years of experience, including experience as an accreditation coordinator.

"I understood that meant he was familiar with all the different aspects of their organization, but also the ambulance business in general," Everett said.

Haden will begin Jan. 1 on a full-time basis and is currently assisting with the transition process. His salary will be $75,000. 

Everett said oral exams were held Tuesday for the second-in-command compliance officer, as well as for four lead medics, which will be in charge of each shift. Oral exams for other positions will come Wednesday and Thursday, Everett said. He said it will likely be December before the department has everyone fully in place. 

About 50 percent of the people applying for positions are current Siouxland Paramedics employees, Everett said. The City Council voted to prioritize those employees when staffing its EMS division. 

"I've held three or four employee update meetings with those employees over there, and my sense is that the majority of them that live within our 10-mile radius in Iowa are going through our process," Everett said.

Siouxland Paramedics announced earlier this week it plans to retain about 15 to 20 of its paramedics to continue providing non-emergency transports between medical care facilities. Between the new city division and those retained jobs, Siouxland Paramedics leadership has said none of the 57 full- or part-time employees willing to make the transition should lose a job. 

Sioux City, which owns all of Siouxland Paramedics' current ambulances, will use those vehicles for the city's EMS division. Everett said his understanding is that Siouxland Paramedics will need to acquire its own ambulances to continue its operations.

Everett said the goal of the transition team, comprised of Sioux City Fire Rescue and Siouxland Paramedics representatives, is that Sioux City residents will not notice a difference in service when the city takes over. 

He said while the transition has been fit into a tight window, it is progressing smoothly. 

"I actually feel that we're -- and I'm knocking on wood here -- but we're kind of one step in front of it," he said. "It seems like things are where they need to be, if not just a little bit ahead of where I thought they might be. That being said, we really can't afford any hiccups." 

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City hall reporter

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