Matanuska-Susitna Borough

Assembly Considers EMS Reorganization

Mat-Su | Patty Sullivan | Monday, March 18, 2019

Tomorrow night (March 19), the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly considers whether to convert the paid on-call emergency medical services system to a full time medical provider system by reallocating the majority of already budgeted wages and benefits.

“Our rubber band is stretched to the max,” said Acting Director of Emergency Services Ken Barkley. The Borough, 20 to 30 years ago, was able to do strictly an on-call system. Responders came from home to answer the call. In recent years we’ve augmented with some full time emergency medical personnel (who would be on duty at the station when they get the call), he said. But the strong population growth and changes in society are increasing the call volumes rapidly.

He predicts that EMS will respond to 10,000 calls in 2020. The increase in overdoses from opioid use adds to the call volume, he said. Another change, is the growth of the senior population. Since 2015, 32 retirement homes were added to the Borough, for a total of 96 senior homes in the Borough, Barkley said.

According to the proposed legislation:

  • the call volume for emergency medical services has doubled since 2010.
  • six regularly scheduled ambulances would allow us to keep pace with our call volume, however, we are currently working with only four. The proposed model allows the department to put two more ambulances into regular service.
  • significant efficiencies can be gained by converting most of the paid on-call Emergency Medical Services system to a more predictable model of full time medical providers
  • it is anticipated that a mostly full time model would result in a 50 percent increase in coverage and a nominal increase in personnel costs
  • this model can be established in Fiscal Year 2019 by reallocating the majority of already budgeted wages and benefits
  • the Acting Director of Emergency Services and the Deputy Director of Emergency Medical Services seek the approval of the conversion of the paid on-call emergency medical services system to a more predictable model of full time medical providers, including the hiring of 17 EMT IIs, four paramedics, and four battalion chiefs.

Watch the Assembly video from the March 5 meeting when the subject was initially discussed. Find the start of the conversation under Manager Comments 3. Emergency Medical Services System Presentation.

View the pdf of the presentation introduced by the Dept. of Emergency Services Acting Director Ken Barkley with EMS Chief Tracey Loscar presenting.  

Read the proposed legislation and see photos from the March 5 Assembly meeting. The meeting gets underway at 6 pm on March 19 at 350 E. Dahlia Ave. in Palmer in the Assembly chambers.

Photos by Mat-Su Public Affairs Office, Stefan Hinman. For more information contact Acting DES Director Ken Barkley at 861-8006 or Public Affairs Director Patty Sullivan at 861-8577 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.