EMS chief is leaving for Door CountyEric Christensen will be leaving Hudson in a month to take the job of emergency services director for Door County. He’s leaving to head up one of two county ambulance systems in Wisconsin, and also serve as Door County’s emergency management director.
By: Randy Hanson, Hudson Star-Observer
Eric Christensen will be leaving Hudson in a month to take the job of emergency services director for Door County.
“This an opportunity that I saw both personally and professionally as being a good fit right now,” said Christensen, the chief of St. Croix Emergency Services for the past nine years. “I did a lot of soul searching. I’m kind of excited — and sad at the same time.”
He’s leaving to head up one of two county ambulance systems in Wisconsin, and also serve as Door County’s emergency management director.
Christensen said Door County EMS has 14 to 16 full-time paramedics who man three stations year-round, as well as a satellite on Washington Island during the vacation season. The county, situated on a peninsula in northeastern Wisconsin stretching into Lake Michigan, is a vacation hotspot.
When asked, Christensen said he’ll also get an increase in pay, but that isn’t why he’s leaving.
“If money was a factor, I would have been gone a long time ago,” he said.
Rather, the opportunity to move closer to family members and head a highly regarded ambulance service were the determining factors.
“I’m not leaving because of the service (St. Croix EMS), the city or the direction we’re going,” he reiterated. “It’s strictly professional and personal — mostly personal.”
“I’m going to be sad to go,” he added. “I’ve felt like I’ve been part of this community. I’ve got a good social network, a good group of friends.”
Christensen said he is proud of what St. Croix EMS has accomplished during his tenure here. In 2005, he led the move to providing paramedic-level service with a small staff of full-time paramedics, backed up by about 30 volunteer emergency medical technicians and part-time paramedics.
“We’re running with 90 percent volunteers what full-time services do with two or three (ambulances),” he said. “I think the citizens of this area should be very proud of what this service has accomplished.”
Christensen said the average paramedic response time in the city of Hudson is about four and a half minutes (national guidelines call for a response within eight minutes).
“That’s huge,” he said, adding that the system is cost-effective, too.
During Christensen’s time here, St. Croix EMS’s call volume doubled to close to 1,900 calls annually. He said it will soon top 2,000 calls a year.
Asked what he would recommend for St. Croix EMS, Christensen said it should remain a city service.
“I view EMS as a public safety service like the police and fire departments. You have a good group of people that have a vested interest in it,” he said.
“I think a part of me will always be with Hudson,” he added. “I hope to carry on what we’ve been able to accomplish here.”
Christensen said an interim chief for St. Croix EMS will be selected from the service’s ranks later this week. The city will then begin the process of finding a permanent replacement for him.