The new chief for Cole County EMS comes from South Dakota.
The Cole County Commission announced Thursday the hiring of Eric Hoy, who will take over in September. Until that time, assistant chiefs David Boyles and Jessica Kampeter will be in charge of the service.
According to a news release from the commission, Hoy has been serving at Sanford AirMed at Sanford Medical Center in Sioux Falls, where he is clinical supervisor of EMS operations. He has held previous positions as enterprise education coordinator, senior EMS educator and flight paramedic at Sanford. Prior to Sanford, Hoy served as a paramedic and flight paramedic in Eureka, California. Before pursuing a career in EMS, he was a firefighter.
"It was apparent from my time visiting with the commission and the staff that this service is well-funded," Hoy said. "It has equipment that is second-to-none for a ground-based ambulance service. In talking with the staff, they are very proud of what they've built."
As medical personnel continue to deal with COVID-19, Hoy said he wants to make sure the EMS staff is taken care of, "so they can provide care to the community and they can trust us with their safety."
"The pandemic is still new in terms of what we understand about this virus," Hoy added. "We have to continue to learn and adapt so we can provide the best response. Anytime somebody gets sick, that creates holes to fill, but staff training allows for the department to be able to handle any challenges.
Hoy said he has a goal to "constantly evaluate ways we can make improvements that are financially responsible, but also give citizens the best care that we can."
As far as dealing with the constant battle to get paramedics — something all EMS services have to deal with — Hoy said the pay and benefits offered by Cole County is above industry norms. Currently, the starting pay for a paramedic is $51,000, and the starting pay for an emergency medical technician is $31,000.
"I think getting out to some non-traditional areas, like high schools and tech school high schools, would be good, and talking to students about how EMS is a viable career path," Hoy said.
Hoy will be relocating to Cole County with his wife, Sarah, and newborn daughter who is 3 weeks old.
"We are looking forward to being long-time residents," Hoy said.
The commission had been looking for a new EMS chief since June when Matt Lindewirth resigned, citing family reasons for his departure. Lindewirth, who stayed on until July 9, had been chief since 2018.
Hoy becomes the fourth director of the county ambulance service since the county took over the service from Capital Regional Medical Center in 2009.