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A special meeting to discuss the staffing shortage of the Glenwood City Ambulance was held at the fire station on Wednesday, July 21st.
About 23 people attended the meeting, including representatives of the various municipalities that receive service from the Glenwood City Ambulance and several interested citizens.
Mayor John Larson chaired the meeting and presented what has happened to bring this matter to light.
Larson read from his prepared statement that back in August of 2019 the ambulance was staffed with 14 Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) and ten drivers with three more taking the EMT training. In August of 2020, Larson noted, the service had 16 EMTs and nine drivers. But today, Larson said, “We now have nine EMTs and three drivers.”
“In order to function, we need to have 14 to 16 EMTs and five to six drivers,” Larson informed the group.
Julie Lee, Ambulance co-director, told the group that it is a need to hire people from outside the area that has brought this item to light. There are also financial concerns, and that members left the service because they have found other employment with more pay.
Currently, the city pays the EMTs $40 per 12-hour shift for weekend standby and $20 for the weekday standby. Plus if they go on a call the EMTs receive an additional $40.00 and the driver gets $32.50. The $40.00 on call per shift amounts to about $3.33 an hour for the weekend while it is only $1.67 for weekdays on call. Ambulance personnel are not required to be at the fire station during on call, but must be within five minutes’ time to get to the fire station.
Lee proposed a new pay schedule to do away with the payment for each run and increase the hourly rate to $9.00 per hour on call. She told the group that she had applications from several people that live outside of the area, but she said, “I can not hire them because we do not have a place for them to live.”
The group spent some time talking about the need for living quarters for EMTs and drivers, but took no action on that matter. However, the pay increase bought up a lot of discussion because it would add almost a hundred thousand dollars to the Ambulance’s annual budget. The group did feel that increasing the run charge was one way of easing the financial burden if the pay schedule is changed.
At present the run charge is at $875 for residents and $1,000 for non-residents and the proposed increase would bring that figure to $1,200 for residents and $1,500 for non-residents, which is close to what other area ambulance services charge.
Several members of the group spoke about how tight local budgets are and questioned where the funds would come from to support the increase in spending that much more money on the staff. Currently the standby charge for each person in a municipality is $25.18. But with the added expense that figure could go to almost $52.00 for each person.
Toward the end of the meeting, the question came up about paying an hourly rate, would those people on the service become city employees? That, coupled with several more questions the mayor noted that the City’s Public Safety Committee, and a couple of volunteers from the group, would look into those questions.
So with many unanswered questions, another meeting was scheduled for Wednesday, August 18th at 6 p.m. at the fire station.
You Can Help
There is a need for more people to operate the ambulance and anyone that is interested in becoming involved may get information from Julie Lee, co-director, at 651-587-6148 or go to the City of Glenwood City’s website (www.glenwoodcitywi.com) and click on Ambulance under the Departments tab, where you will find information and an application form.