Coming together to save Ely’s ambulance service

Representatives from Ely’s four governmental bodies sat down Thursday afternoon to discuss ways to make sure when you need an ambulance one will arrive quickly and with qualified and well-trained staff.
Today that starts with finding a permanent home for the Ely Area Ambulance Service, a non-profit run entity that works to make ends meet and that the service runs smoothly.
A joint powers board made up of Ely, Winton, Morse and Fall Lake has the ability to provide tax revenues, something that has been in place for decades. But now the joint powers board is being asked to do even more, help the ambulance service find a better home.
Currently the hospital rents the ambulance service a building that is basically just that. No running water or sewer, just a place to park the ambulances along with a small office. Plans have been in the works for years to replace that building with a more fitting home.
On Thursday the joint powers board discussed a new option, purchasing a building that could be used with minor renovations. Instead of spending $1.5 to $3.5 million, the total cost could be as low as $620,000.
This could be very good news for those of us who end up in a position where we need an ambulance and fast, either for ourselves or one of our loved ones.
It wasn’t that long ago that the hospital provided the people to staff the ambulance. When they weren’t on ambulance calls, they were employed in the hospital. But changes in hospital funding brought that program to a close. Now the Ely Area Ambulance Service has its own employees who need a place to be when they are waiting for a call. Today that’s a rented house part-way across town from where the ambulances are located.
A building with both space for ambulances and temporary living quarters would mean faster response times for those who have dialed 911.
At this point it’s unknown if the plan to acquire a building that would serve the needs of the EAAS will come to fruition. But there was one thing clear at the meeting held in the Winton Community Center. Everyone is on the same page.
Each government representative pledged to work together to find a solution to both the need for a new building and to make sure our ambulance service can continue to operate financially.
Currently each government entity pays in $10.10 for each citizen it represents. That number may need to go higher, as much as double the current subsidy.
There are more meetings to be held, more discussion to take place but we were encouraged to see that differences can be set aside when everyone knows how important it is that they all come together.
We need to make sure our local ambulance service is there for us when called. That they have a home to leave from and the funding to keep operating can be the difference between life and death.