NEW HIRES – The new administrators, hired Jan. 5, for Iosco County EMS are, pictured left to right, EMS Operations Manager/ Paramedic Raymond Bruning II, Administrative Assistant Katherine St. Clair and Director of Emergency Services Director Mike Eller

TAWAS CITY – The Iosco County Board of Commissioners approved three administrative hires for Iosco County EMS, which will be under management by county employees beginning in March.

It was during a county Committee of the Whole meeting held in late November 2021 that commissioners decided to cut ties, at least as far as providing management services to the county, with Mobile Medical Response (MMR), a EMS management/training company based in Saginaw.

With that decision, according to county Controller/Finance Director Jamie Carruthers-Soboleski, Iosco County had 120 days to complete the transfer, meaning the county would be on its own as far as managing Iosco County EMS by the end of March.

During the Jan. 5 meeting commissioners voted to hire three key administrative personnel to help run the agency. All the hires are familiar faces to EMS in the Iosco said Soboleski and have working knowledge of the county and the agency. The hiring recommendations were made to the county board by the EMS subcommittee, which is spearheading the transfer.

The first hire approved by commissioners with a 4-0 vote (Commissioner Robert Huebel was absent from the meeting and did not vote) was Iosco County 911 Central Dispatch Director Mike Eller as the county’s director of emergency services, which is the new title he will work under. Under the approved contract he will retain his duties as 911 director and keep those job benefits, but will get paid an additional $8,000 a year to do the director of emergency services work.

Soboleski said she felt that Eller was a good pick for the position, and a person who had intimate knowledge of EMS in Iosco County.

“Mr. Eller has a track record at being a very successful 911 director and the agency has been operating very well under his direction, so I have the upmost confidence that as the director,” she said. “He will have oversight and make sure, that if there is any issues, and we can fix those issues.”

The next hire for the reorganized agency was Paramedic Raymond Bruning II as the EMS Operations Manager. Under the contract he will tasked with managing the day to day operations, scheduling EMS personnel, handing personnel matters, as well as other duties that are done by the operations manager. Currently, under MMR management, the duties are performed by Operations Manager Scott Kiernicki, who actually splits his time between Iosco and Arenac counties as an operations manager, Soboleski said.

Bruning II will be paid $75,000 for his management duties, but his salary is higher annually, Soboleski said, because he will also be tasked with working as a paramedic as well, due to the short staff that the county is currently dealing with at EMS.

In his contract for the wage that we are giving him, he is required to work 48 hours a month on the ambulance rig, especially since we are short on paramedics,”: she said.

Bruning II will also be able to travel to scenes where a paramedic is needed, Soboleski said, in the case that an advanced life support call is needed

“I have heard nothing but good things about Ray and how respected he is with the EMS employees that are there right now,” Soboleski said. “He should do a good job.”

Last but not least, Katherine St. Clair was hired as an administrative assistant. Soboleski said she lives in the area and is actually leaving her employment with MMR to work for the county. He rate of pay is $50,000.

Soboleski pointed out that under the agreement with MMR, the county owned the property and equipment, as well as hired and paid the employees, but just had the management of the agency conducted by MMR.

“For a lot of years it seemed like the relationship with MMR went really well and things went well, but in the past couple years things deteriorated somewhat, I can’t speak as to why it happened, we were not getting as much attention as we were in the past.”

She said mainly in the past the county had more than one person on the management team, but before the split they had just one operations manager that was split between Iosco and Arenac County

Soboleski said she hopes that having EMS operated by the county itself, instead of an outside vender, will help provide a better service for the community. She said there was a disconnect with having MMR run the management side of the operations, especially sine Kiernicki not actually spending his full attention with Iosco County.

“We felt that some of the budgeting issues and financial issues were not communicated well from MMR,” Soboleski said. She said much of this took place before she was hired on as the county controller, but said there was a disconnect between the county and agency. 

Soboleski said although the county is severing ties with MMR for management, they may use some of the agency’s other services in the future, including their ambulance maintenance program. She said it has been easy working with MMR in the transition, and the company even agreed to prorate Iosco County now that it has new management.

“We appreciate how gracious they’ve been,” she said. “I think it’s mutually beneficial so they can now deploy their staff at other places.”

As far as work that has to be done to fully implement the changeover, Soboleski said the county is looking for a billing services company to work with the county. Currently MMR does that billing. She said that right now there are two proposals from companies that have been received by the county. Both companies work with agency counties, so Soboleski said the EMS subcommittee will be asking those counties how it is to work with the companies before a recommendation is made to the county board of commissioners.

She said that MMR officials have told the county that if anything comes up unexpected to let them know because they can try to help iron out kinks in the transition.

“I think they recognize the important of a future relationship with Iosco County,” she said.

Pending unexpected expenses, Soboleski said the changeover could even provide a more than $50,000 annual savings to Iosco. She said, however, the changeover was not about saving money.

“The ultimate goal of doing this was to not save money, that’s a benefit, but the goal is reduce response times and increase services and have more ambulances available for the public. This is the first step in it, and we have work to do to get into it,” she said.

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