SCCAD Recognized for Financial Reporting

The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) has awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting to St. Charles County Ambulance District [SCCAD] for its annual comprehensive financial report for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2020. The report has been judged by an impartial panel to meet the high standards of the program, which includes demonstrating a constructive “spirit of full disclosure” to fully communicate its financial story and motivate potential users and user groups to read the report. This marks the 17th consecutive year that SCCAD has received this recognition.

The Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management.

Seniors ‘Fill the Ambulance’ with Record-Setting 9,500 lbs. of Food

If you step into retirement communities throughout St. Charles County in December, you’ll undoubtedly see trees, menorahs and snowflakes adorning the lobbies, but there is another item you may not expect to find – royal blue 40-gallon trash barrels. Featuring the distinctive Operation Food Search [OFS] tomato logo, these receptacles are not meant for garbage, but rather for cans, boxes and bags of food for the St. Charles County Ambulance District [SCCAD] ‘Fill the Ambulance with Food’ initiative, which has become a hallmark of the holiday season.  Once the barrels were loaded and the donations logged, the tally reached a record-setting 9,500 lbs. of nutritious food donations, which OFS representatives estimate will provide one full day of meals for 2,375 individuals.

‘Fill the Ambulance’ immediately resonated with retirees upon its inception, and over the course of more than a decade has amassed over 55,000 lbs. of food that stays local to St. Charles County. Though the name suggests donations will be loaded into an advanced life support unit, support of the initiative long ago outgrew a single ambulance. Thankfully, partner pantries are armed with box trucks that will help donations find their way to shelves.

“The excitement for ‘Fill the Ambulance’ begins very early,” said Fairwinds River’s Edge General Manager Jim Ausmus.  “Residents begin asking around Halloween when we’re getting our blue barrels!” Ausmus and his team took a unique approach to the initiative in 2020 when COVID case counts were at their peak, creating a miniature grocery store within the lobby so residents could shop safely. The concept was a hit, and the store was open for business again this year!

‘Fill the Ambulance’ continues to grow not only in quantity of food collected, but also in terms of the number of participating communities. Through the years, new facilities opening in St. Charles County have enthusiastically embraced the program.  This year’s participants included: Twin Oaks Stone Ridge, Twin Oaks at Heritage Pointe, Boulevard Wentzville, Boulevard St. Charles, Park Place Senior Living, Garden Villas of O’Fallon, Avalon Park, Breeze Park, Lake St. Charles, Fairwinds River’s Edge, Watermark of St. Peters, Clarendale St. Peters, Lake Ridge Senior Apartments, along with Freedom Fitness locations in Cottleville and Wentzville.

“The sustained level of dedication and commitment to ‘Fill the Ambulance’ is both heartwarming and awe-inspiring,” said Kristen Wild, OFS President and CEO. “Through their contributions, these seniors will help heal the hurt of hunger for hundreds of individuals and families in their community.”

SCCAD Certified Level 1 Pediatric-Ready by EMSC

In any given year, St. Charles County Ambulance District [SCCAD] paramedics respond to thousands of calls for pediatric patients within the District’s 592 square mile service area.  From allergic reactions to traumatic injuries, situations involving our community’s youngest residents demand specialized equipment and training.  This month, SCCAD was recognized by the Missouri Emergency Medical Services for Children [MOEMSC] program as Level 1 – the highest possible level for pediatric readiness.

To earn certification through the MOEMSC initiative, Missouri ambulance providers must carry and train annually on dozens of pieces of pediatric specialty basic and advanced life support equipment and designate a pediatric emergency care coordinator for the organization who ensures all pediatric-specific transport needs remain a top priority for the organization.  To earn Level 1 certification, the organization must demonstrate commitment to pediatric community outreach.

“We are proud to recognize SCCAD for their commitment and dedication to the children of their community,” said Danielle Lee, MOEMSC Program Coordinator. “In addition to maintaining advanced pediatric certification for all paramedics, the District has a proven track record of offering a robust array of pediatric-centered safety programming for residents.”

In 2016, SCCAD was among the first EMS agencies in the region to partner with area pediatric specialty hospitals to offer a formalized STARS [Special Needs Tracking and Awareness Response] program for families with children suffering from complex medical needs.  Other outreach programs include child safety seat installation assistance, child/infant CPR training, and Stop Heroin, a program aimed at middle school students that provides a raw look at the opiate epidemic.

“The District’s continued commitment to investment in equipment, training, and prevention programs helps improve clinical outcomes” said SCCAD Deputy Chief Medical Officer John Romeo.  “We’re honored to be recognized by MOEMSC at this highest-possible level.”

MOEMSC is a federally funded grant program whose mission is to reduce child and youth mortality and morbidity resulting from severe illness or trauma.

Board of Director Candidate Filing Period

On Tuesday April 5, 2022 the qualified voters of election District 2, and District 4 will elect one Director for each District to the St Charles County Ambulance District Board of Directors to serve a three-year term.  Procedure for filing a declaration of candidacy for Director as follows:

  1. Filing will open at 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday December 7, 2021 and close at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday December 28, 2021.
  2. Filing must be declared in writing at the St Charles County Election Authority Administrative office at 397 Turner Boulevard, St Peters MO 63376 during the posted regular hours.

Candidates for the office of Director at the time of filing must be a citizen of the United States, a qualified voter of the election District in which they are a candidate, a resident of the District for two years next preceding the election and shall be at least 24 years of age.

For candidates filing on the first day (December 7, 2021) the order of filing will be determined by random drawing.  Thereafter, candidates for each election District will appear on the ballot in the order in which his/her written declaration of candidacy is filed with the St Charles County Election Authority.  All candidates are required to complete MO Department of Revenue Form 5120, Candidate’s Affidavit of Tax Payments and Bonding Requirements, and signed and notarized when filing. 

Raymond Bauer, Secretary

SCCAD Sets Gold Standard In Cardiac, Stroke Care

St. Charles County Ambulance District [SCCAD] paramedics once again earned Gold Plus status in the American Heart Association’s annual Mission: Lifeline program, which recognizes EMS agencies for their implementation of quality improvement measures for the treatment of patients who suffer severe heart attacks and strokes.

Each year, more than 250,000 individuals experience a ST elevation myocardial infarction [STEMI], a deadly type of heart attack caused by a blockage of blood flow to the heart that requires timely treatment.  To prevent death, it is critical to restore blood flow as quickly as possible.  Unfortunately, a significant number of these patients don’t receive this prompt attention.

The correct tools, training and practices allow SCCAD paramedics to rapidly treat these patients and trigger an early response from the awaiting hospital personnel.  Agencies that receive the Mission: Lifeline Gold award demonstrated compliance for each of four required cardiac achievement measures, and two stroke reporting measures.  The ‘Plus’ distinction reflects that paramedics are consistently performing a 12-lead ECG on patients within 10 minutes on chest pain calls.  2021 marks SCCAD’s third Gold Plus honor, and its seventh overall Mission: Lifeline recognition.

“SCCAD paramedics play a vital part in the system of care for those who experience significant medical emergencies in our community,” said SCCAD Chief Kelly Cope.  “As the first medical point of contact, they perform life-saving interventions and shave precious minutes of treatment time off by activating the emergency response system that alerts hospitals.”

SCCAD paramedics and leadership staff are elated to be recognized at this high level but highlight the fact that collaborative relationships that make it possible.

“We convene regularly with our partners at Barnes-Jewish St. Peters, Progress West, SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital St. Charles and SSM Health St. Joseph Hospital Lake St. Louis to develop protocols with the goal of improving the quality of care for stroke and STEMI patients,” said John Romeo, Deputy Chief Medical Officer for SCCAD.

Cardiac care has been an area of focus for SCCAD in recent years; in 2015, the District was the first in the region to debut cardio-cerebral resuscitation [CCR] – an innovative approach to cardiac arrest management that saw a significant increase in survival to hospital discharge rates.  In addition, SCCAD paramedics work to provide cost-free chest compression education to St. Charles County residents via the Lifesaver CPR program, which has to date trained more than 11,000 individuals.

Chief Kelly Cope Recognized as Emerging EMS Leader

Inspiring EMS leadership welcomes new achievements as Kelly Cope, a recent Ambulance Service Manager graduate from Fitch & Associates, was recognized with the Pinnacle Emerging EMS Leader Award, which honors rising executives in EMS who demonstrate excellence in the profession. Currently, Cope serves as Chief Executive Officer for Saint Charles County Ambulance District in Missouri, which is the state’s largest ambulance district, serving more than 400,000 citizens.

“I’m very proud to know Kelly and have had the privilege of teaching Pinnacle Power Seminars with him over the past few years, including one just this week,” said Anthony Minge, Fitch & Associates Senior Partner and Pinnacle Co-chair. “Kelly is a well-read individual, and he enjoys sharing the wealth of leadership knowledge he has absorbed and retained over the years.”

Cope began his career after taking an EMT course on a whim during college. He fell in love with EMS, and shortly thereafter began his paramedic training while working as an EMT in a super-rural Missouri community. Cope completed his paramedic training while working at a hospital-based program in urban Saint Louis and continued working in the high-volume, fast-paced urban environment for several years before moving to Saint Charles Ambulance District.

There, he served as a front-line paramedic and started taking on additional responsibility with special projects, including the implementation of electronic charting.

A voracious reader, he takes every opportunity to listen to business and leadership books, whether in the car or at home. He applied those leadership principles in his career as he took on increasing responsibility. He was elected Executive Steward of the Union before transitioning to management and serving as the Battalion Chief overseeing non-emergency transport, where he relished the role of training and mentoring younger personnel. He was later promoted to Assistant Chief of Operations, where he oversaw planning and construction of a new $32 million, 140,000 square foot operations and training facility, which opened shortly after he was promoted to Chief Executive Officer earlier this year.

He is passionate about his own leadership development, and in developing leaders around him. He recently launched an endeavor at (Saint Charles County Ambulance District (SCCAD) to create a multi-part series of education for its leadership team designed to give a more well-rounded perspective of their operations and of the EMS industry.

Cope is a 2019 graduate of the Ambulance Service Manager program and a graduate of the Priority Ambulance Foundation’s EMS Leadership of Tomorrow program. He has also been recognized as the Missouri EMS Association’s Paramedic of the Year.

Cope was recognized on Tuesday, Aug. 10 during the 15th annual Pinnacle EMS Leadership Forum at the JW Marriott Desert Ridge in Phoenix.

SCCAD Earns Highest Possible Moody’s Credit Rating

St. Charles County Ambulance District [SCCAD] has received a triple-A rating, the highest rating possible, from Moody’s Investors Service, a leading global credit rating, research and risk analysis firm.

The District applied for the bond rating in connection with an upcoming sale of $22,965,000 of the $70 million in bonds authorized by voters in August 2018. Moody’s released a report that describes the rationale for assigning the rating, including a modest debt burden, stable financial operations, and sizable reserves.

Joy Howard, the District financial advisor, noted that in addition to the State of Missouri, SCCAD is now one of only six governmental units in the state to have a Moody’s triple-A rating.

“Just as individuals benefit by having excellent credit scores, the Aaa rating will result in the lowest possible interest cost on the District’s bonds,” Howard said.

Ms. Howard indicated that the District will save approximately $640,000 of interest by having the highest bond rating compared to the next rating grade on its bond sale.

“The District’s trend of surplus operations and conservative budgeting practices contributed to the high rating,” said SCCAD Chief Kelly Cope.  “We are immensely proud to be among the small group of Missouri governments to achieve an Aaa rating and expect to continue achieving strong results going forward.”

The District plans to sell the bonds by competitive bidding on August 12.  Projects slated for completion utilizing funds generated by the bonds include acquisition of property for new ambulance stations, construction of said facilities, and purchase of advanced life support units and lifesaving equipment. 

SCCAD Debuts $32M Consolidated HQ Facility

Expanded training capacity, improved simulation labs, an enhanced emergency operations center, and comprehensive fleet maintenance capabilities are among the key features of St. Charles County Ambulance District’s [SCCAD] state of the art headquarters facility, which opened this week.  The facility was completed ahead of schedule and under budget by nearly $2 million.

“The opening of this facility represents a milestone in the history of our organization,” said SCCAD Chief Kelly Cope. “When planning every detail throughout the design and construction process, we considered the needs of the District not only today, but also decades into the future.” 

The new building consolidates operations from five existing SCCAD facilities – administration, training, and finance/human resources buildings in St. Peters, a logistics and fleet maintenance facility in Cottleville, and a non-emergency transfer hub in O’Fallon. 

“Though we’re excited about many facets of this all-inclusive project, we’re particularly enthusiastic about the training capabilities it affords our team and the community at large,” said Cope.  “The flexible space can accommodate over 200 individuals in a single room when fully utilized, enabling us to host a variety of training opportunities for first responders in our region.

In total, the facility measures just over 140,000 square feet; just over half of which is allocated to operational needs such as supply chain management and non-emergency transfer division.  Compared with existing facilities, the new building more than doubles the District’s in-house fleet maintenance capabilities.  In addition, the expansive garage space for the first time enables large specialty assets such as the AmbuBus and Major Incident Response Vehicle to be housed indoors out of the elements.

O’Fallon-based LCS Construction led general contracting efforts for the building, which was designed by ArchImages.  Navigate Building Solutions provided construction management services.  Hundreds of local trades professionals played an active role in bringing the facility online. Design discussions began in mid-2018, with construction commencing in January 2020.  The facility’s completion is approximately two months ahead of schedule and came in nearly $2 million below the budgeted $32.8 million. 

The consolidated headquarters is the largest project in the Ambulance District’s 10-Year capital improvement plan, which was financed by voters’ overwhelming approval of Proposition Ambulance – a general obligation bond issue, in August 2018.  The plan also includes construction of EMS stations in areas of growth, purchase of ambulances and other response vehicles, and procurement of lifesaving medical equipment. 

GFOA Awards SCCAD Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting

Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) has
awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting to St. Charles County Ambulance District for its comprehensive annual financial report for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019. The report has been judged by an impartial panel to meet the high standards of the program, which includes demonstrating a constructive “spirit of full disclosure” to clearly communicate its financial story and motivate potential users and user groups to read the report.

The Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management.

SCCAD Chief Taz Meyer to Retire April 30; Asst. Chief Kelly Cope Named District’s Next Chief Executive

After 20 years of service with St. Charles County Ambulance District [SCCAD] and 35+ years in the emergency medical services industry, Chief Taz Meyer will retire on April 30.  Assistant Chief Kelly Cope, a 25-year veteran of the District, will take the reins as Chief on May 1.

Meyer’s time with SCCAD is divided into two eras – he spent four years as a paramedic from 1989 to 1993 before taking opportunities to lead several EMS education programs in the St. Louis region.  In 2004, he returned to SCCAD as Operations Coordinator, and was promoted to Chief in 2013.  Under Meyer’s leadership, SCCAD has experienced substantial growth in call volume and added several innovative, value-added programs for residents of the community including critical care transport, mobile integrated health, and the American Ambulance Association award-winning Substance Use Recovery Response Team.  During his tenure, the District was twice named ‘Service of the Year’ by the Missouri EMS Association [MEMSA].

“The ambulance industry has undergone a substantial evolution throughout my career, shifting from purely emergency response to a more holistic mobile healthcare model,” said Meyer. “I consider myself lucky to have worked with the innovative clinicians and support staff of SCCAD – I have no doubt that their commitment to excellence will continue under Chief Cope’s leadership.”

Cope, a MEMSA Paramedic of the Year winner, assumes the District’s most senior role after a three-year stint as Assistant Chief of Operations.  He is a member of the Priority Ambulance Leadership Foundation Class of 2020, and a graduate of Fitch & Associates Ambulance Service Manager program. Prior to his promotion to Assistant Chief, he led SCCAD’s non-emergency transfer division as Battalion Chief and spent two decades treating patients as a front-line paramedic.  Like Meyer, he credits SCCAD’s team of dedicated professionals for the organization’s success.

“Chief Meyer has been instrumental in the planning and development of numerous protocols and initiatives that have become models for other EMS providers regionally and even nationally,” said Cope.  “He has positioned us well to continue developing and promoting best practices to integrated community healthcare for the 400,000+ residents we serve.”

For residents of Missouri’s largest ambulance district, Meyer and Cope expect the transition in leadership to be seamless. The pair have worked closely for several years on day-to-day operations as well as large-scale initiatives such as the District’s consolidated campus facility, which is expected to debut this fall.