County to pay former Sedgwick County EMS director Dr. John Gallagher $85K

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WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Sedgwick County Commissioners voted Friday to accept the resignation of Dr. John Gallagher. On a unanimous vote, commissioners approved a mutually agreed settlement.

Gallagher was named EMS Director in August 2019.

“Sedgwick County and Dr. John Gallagher have agreed that it is in the best interest of both parties to part ways. Therefore, Dr. John Gallagher has resigned as EMS Director effective July 23, 2021,” said Chairman Pete Meitzner. “Sedgwick County would like to extend Dr. John Gallagher well wishes for his future endeavors and appreciation for his service.”

Gallagher will receive $85,177.85, which is the equivalent of four and half months’ salary. In addition, the county paid accrued vacation through today for his salary while working for EMS.

“As an organization, we now want to move forward in a positive direction for our EMS department and put this behind us,” said Meitzner. “We want to assure the citizens of Sedgwick County that you can have trust and confidence when you call 911 and ask for EMS to come to your aid in your most-needed hour, you will get the highest quality care in public safety and service that we provide.”

Sedgwick County Manager Tom Stolz has placed Paul Misasi, Deputy EMS Director, and Bill Robben, EMS Colonel, in charge of managing the EMS department. At the same time, an interim EMS director is being considered.

“I’ve gotten a very good response back from that very positive comments from employees, good suggestions to move forward,” said Stolz.

Sedgwick County Commissioner Jim Howell said changes would take time.

“Even right now, I think there have to be some things did I think to address some of the short-term concerns like the protocols, for example,” said Howell.

Commissioner Lacey Cruse said it’s time to listen.

“It’s going to be a challenge because of all the things that have happened over the past, you know, couple of months, so what we’re going to do is focus on finding the right person, with the help of all the street level folks and management,” said Cruse.

With the departure of Dr. Gallagher, county health officer Dr. Minns is temporarily providing medical oversight for EMS until Stolz picks a local physician to fill that role. That is expected early next week.

One current EMS employee who did not want to go on camera tells KSN News Dr. Gallagher resigning is a great first step for the department. Meanwhile, others like Jake Masterson, a former paramedic who quit EMS after more than a decade of service, say some of the issues here are not an overnight fix.

“There’s a mountain ahead for the service, but I think that myself as well as my friends that still work there,” said Masterson. “There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, finally.”

Masterson says if the issues are resolved, it might open the door to some former employees.

“If they start getting the service back on track, I would be interested in coming back. I liked being a paramedic, and I had every intention of retiring from the service.”

Meitzner says he understands the worry, but he believes EMS can provide the life-saving service.

“I know there’s a concern,” Meitzner explained. “But I think if you call 911, you’re going to get service.”

The one anonymous paramedic KSN spoke with says while there are still issues that need to be resolved, he’s excited about moving forward. He thinks SCEMS has the potential to be a model for other departments across the state.

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