Kan. county picks longtime medic as interim EMS director after resignation

Kevin Lanterman, a 29-year veteran of Sedgwick County EMS, was chosen by county management following the resignation of the previous director


Chance Swaim
The Wichita Eagle

Sedgwick County has named an interim director of emergency medical services from within the department's ranks after Dr. John Gallagher was removed last week.

Gallagher agreed to resign following a Wichita Eagle investigation into the department's struggles under his leadership. Sedgwick County paid him $85,177.85 as part of his separation agreement.

"Major Lanterman has pledged to work with the existing EMS leadership team to continue recruitment, hiring and retention efforts and improve service delivery to the citizens of Sedgwick County," a county spokesman said in a Friday evening news release. (Photo/Sedgwick County EMS)

Kevin Lanterman, a paramedic with 29 years experience at Sedgwick County EMS, was chosen by county management based on a week of interviews with employees, according to a news release from the county.

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Lanterman takes over as the department grapples with staffing shortages, ambulance shutdowns and slow response times.

"Major Lanterman has pledged to work with the existing EMS leadership team to continue recruitment, hiring and retention efforts and improve service delivery to the citizens of Sedgwick County," a county spokesman said in a Friday evening news release.

Lanterman is a highly decorated paramedic who has been a shift commander for the past 16 years.

In 2017, Sedgwick County named him a member of the Paramedic Team of the Year for his role in the response and care of Wichita Police Officer Brian Arteburn, who sustained serious brain injuries when he was run over by a fleeing suspect in an SUV. Last month, Wesley Healthcare awarded Lanterman and several of his colleagues EMS Crew of the Year for their response to an emergency after Lanterman found a patient in distress while off duty.

Lanterman was one of 39 employees who spoke out against Gallagher in April during two closed-door town hall meetings with County Manager Tom Stolz and Assistant County Manager Rusty Leeds.

Lanterman called for Stolz and Leeds to remove Gallagher and Deputy Medical Director Dr. Carolina Pereira, who handed in her resignation amid the Eagle investigation and a county audit into EMS leadership.

Related: Kan. EMS providers say county leaders ignored their warnings

Naming an interim director is one several sweeping changes announced by Stolz last Friday aimed at rolling back a 2019 consolidation of EMS operations and the office of the medical director, placing Gallagher — who had never been a paramedic — as the head of both departments without opening the position for applications.

The medical director and EMS operations have now been separated, as they had been for the first 44 years of the organization.

Stolz has committed to hiring new director of EMS through a competitive regional or national search. The county also plans establish an EMS Citizens Advisory Board to improve transparency and add oversight of the department.

A search for an interim medical director is ongoing.

Pereira, who remains on the county payroll until September, declined to allow the county to operate under her medical license. Emergency responders are working under the medical license of Public Health Officer Dr. Garold Minns.

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(c)2021 The Wichita Eagle (Wichita, Kan.)

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