May 17, 2022

Sheriff’s office moves forward with lifesaving initiative

Supervisors approve new advanced lifesaving deputy positions

Sheriff John Halferty’s campaign to improve emergency medical services throughout Jasper County has moved one step closer to reality.

During the Jasper County Board of Supervisors meeting on Jan. 18, human resources director Dennis Simon requested board approval to create two new sheriff’s office positions and hire two deputies as advanced lifesaving reserve deputies.

Approval of both items would help the sheriff’s office continue preparations for a new program proposed at a past supervisors meeting.

A few weeks ago, Halferty presented a plan for his department to shoulder some of the county’s emergency medical responsibilities in an effort to alleviate the high demand placed on paramedic volunteers.

If implemented, the county would use additional CARES Act funds to purchase extra equipment and fund extra shifts for deputies who are certified as paramedics.

Two deputies at the sheriff’s office are already certified and work as volunteer paramedics when not on-duty, Halferty said. But due to a lack of equipment and his office not being certified by the state to provide paramedic-level care to patients, the two deputies are not allowed to operate at their full capacity when on-duty.

All of Halferty’s deputies are trained and certified to perform basic lifesaving services (BLS), which mainly consists of CPR and the proper use of automated external defibrillators. But due to the sheriff’s office only requiring BLS training, it is only certified by the state to administer that level of care.

So to combat this untapped resource, Halferty proposed his office apply to the state and become authorized to provide paramedic-level care when responding to medical calls and allow any deputies who have paramedic certification to prioritize medical calls while on-duty.

At that past meeting the board of supervisors approved of Halferty’s request and tasked him to carry out his proposed plan.

During the Jan. 18 board meeting, Halferty’s proposal was revisited due to the supervisors needing to approve the extra shifts for his two paramedic-trained deputies.

The first item on Simon’s agenda was for the supervisors to approve the creation of two new temporary, part-time advanced lifesaving deputy positions.

The positions would be filled by deputies with paramedic training. They would spend their shifts performing regular duties, but would prioritize responding to medical emergency calls and providing advanced lifesaving.

The request emphasizes the positions are temporary, and will be subject to review after a two-year trial period ending Dec. 21, 2023. From there the county will revisit and determine the viability of the program.

The board of supervisors approved the creation of the new positions. Simon then presented two hiring resolutions to fill the newly created positions.

According to county documents, the two ALS deputies, Steve Ashing and Jacob Halferty, would be hired at a rate of $25/hr and will begin work on Jan. 31. The board approved the new hires.

In other business, the Jasper County Board of Supervisors:

• Approved the hiring of a full-time jailer, Jennifer Nunnikhoven. She will be hired at the rate of $19.17/hr and will begin working at the county jail on Jan. 24.

• Tabled a discussion of the upcoming ARPA committee due to supervisor Doug Cupples being out sick.

Contact Abby Knipfel at 641-792-4687 ext. 6531 or aknipfel@shawmedia.com

Abby Knipfel

Abby "Adler" Knipfel

Journalist at Newton Daily News. Currently covering Jasper County and writing passionate opinion pieces. They/Them