TAHLEQUAH, Okla. -- Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. and Deputy Chief Bryan Warner are proposing over $54 million in funds to support the Cherokee Nation's Emergency Medical Services. Hoskin met with the tribe's EMS staff Thursday in Tahlequah to solicit feedback on the department and to discuss plans for bolstering facilities and fleet services.
The proposal by Hoskin and Warner includes a resolution that will support a new ambulance facility for Cherokee Nation EMS and a new, expanded fleet of ambulances. The Council of the Cherokee Nation will be asked to approve of the proposed resolution, which would allow the tribe to make the investments.
"Cherokee Nation's EMS provides a high level of care and responsiveness across a large area of our reservation," Hoskin said. "Our EMS staff and the patients they serve deserve the best facilities and the best ambulances. These funds will get our facilities and fleet to that level. I am proud of the work our EMS crew provides to our communities and look forward to providing them with the state-of-the-art resources they need."
The proposal also calls for emergency assistance to help stabilize ambulance service in Adair County, where an existing partnership with a non-tribal ambulance service will soon terminate, leaving the county to create a new ambulance service through Adair County Emergency Medical Services.
Under Hoskin and Warner's proposal, Cherokee Nation would provide up to $300,000 in operating expenses through May, at which time Adair County EMS believes it will be financially stable. Two surplus ambulances would also be donated to Adair County EMS under the proposal.
Cherokee Nation has also provided Adair County with lease space for its emergency management services, at a nominal rate, at its former office complex in Stilwell.
"Thank you to the job our first responders do every day," said District 8 Tribal Councilor Shawn Crittenden, of Adair County. "And thank you Chief and Deputy Chief again for seeing a need here in Adair County and fixing it."
As part of Hoskin and Warner's proposal, the Cherokee Nation's Emergency Management department will be required to conduct an assessment of emergency medical services across the reservation to identify those services most in need of support from Cherokee Nation.
"This legislation has the potential to impact all of Cherokee Nation and to provide life-saving services that not only help Cherokee citizens, but all who live in or visit the wonderful communities throughout northeast Oklahoma as we reach out and assess local needs," Warner said. "Working together with local officials, Cherokee Nation can help to strengthen EMS services across the reservation."
The Council of the Cherokee Nation will consider the resolution at a committee meeting January 27. If approved during committee, the proposal will be subject to final approval at a special Council meeting scheduled later the same day.
The projects and initiatives in the proposed resolution will be funded with funds under Cherokee Nation's COVID-19 Respond, Recover and Rebuild plan and funds generated by the tribe's health system.
"This proposal is another example of how we are working together to improve the lives of our citizens," said District 7 Tribal Councilor Joshua Sam, of Adair County. "The administration is listening to the needs of our Cherokee citizens in Adair County and making it a point to ensure our people have the resources to provide an effective EMS service. I'm excited for our people and I am looking forward to supporting this legislation through to final passage."