It often takes a crisis to get people to work together, and that's now the case with the emergency services for Adair County.
While it is not yet a crisis, since there are several solutions and opportunities, it is an essential service the county must provide to citizens by state law.
For many years, Watts, Westville and Stilwell, like most municipalities, have been separate entities and not operating together much for projects or activities, except perhaps law enforcement. But in the past decade, regionalism has become the business model, providing success to regions of a state through coordinating and cooperating counties. Northeast Oklahoma Regional Alliance has been a force in growing businesses in this section of the state by drawing on the strengths and resources of each town, and working together as a team for the overall success of all parties involved. Times have changed, and each city cannot always survive alone, but will thrive working as part of a partnership.
That is also true for Adair County. It is time for the county to thrive because leaders consider what is best for their citizens, rather than their own need for power and control – or whatever agenda might motivate a mayor, council member, commissioner, EMS professional or anyone else involved with the changes necessary to provide ambulance and emergency services. Power struggles have to be removed from the table when offering life-or-death services to citizens.
There are 1,000 little details to be determined, but establishing a countywide emergency service is not as hard as it might sound. It will take those with expertise in certain areas stepping up to put that piece into the puzzle. But all the pieces are now available in this county; they're just waiting for the team to put them into place.
A building for central dispatch is needed, and there are options, including current dispatch, until the upgrade is made. EMS are necessary, and there are men and women ready to go. Ambulances are needed, and there are two used vehicles available. Billing will need to be set up, but that is doable. Someone to coordinate everything is already in place. And the hospital has stepped forward to offer exceptional options, as well, that leaders should seriously consider.
It isn’t rocket science to set up this entity that will bring professional and quality EMS services from tip to toe of the county, which it hasn’t had in quite a long time, according to those in the field. Separately, Stilwell and Westville EMS services failed. A look at what didn’t work helps prevent those same mistakes from being made again.
It takes cooperation and coordination of city and county leaders, with legal expertise provided by the District Attorney's Office, to put it together. Everyone involved – especially those who attended the Wednesday night meeting – seems to have a commitment to the best interests of all the people in the county, which is the right place to start.
Anyone worried about EMS services after Feb. 1 can be confident that the leaders of Adair County – Stilwell, Watts, and Westville – will work together and provide a new and improved emergency service to citizens.