Editorial: Another step forward for ambulance service

There aren’t any other entities where area elected officials would open their checkbooks twice in one year. The Ely Area Ambulance Service has been rescued twice by local governments and most recently, by the Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital.
The first time was for a building that would provide garage space for the ambulances and living quarters for the employees. This was a $461,000 venture that improved morale and response time. But for Morse, Fall Lake and Ely this was a $150,000 commitment in the middle of a fiscal year. The city of Winton also contributed $11,000.
Just a few months later the non-profit board that runs the ambulance announced it was in serious financial difficulty, with an expected loss of over $260,000. Again the government entities were asked to put monies on the tables and again they delivered. The burden was made lighter by the hospital donating $62,500 the same as Morse, Fall Lake and Ely. Winton put in $3,380.
That will keep the ambulance afloat financially hopefully through 2023 so when one of us calls 911 or needs a transport to another hospital, our local ambulance can be there in our hour of need.
A meeting of the ambulance joint powers board last week muddled through some funding issues but in the end an agreement was reached to move forward with the funding contribution.
What was encouraging were words from hospital CEO Patti Banks who is working to help right the ship and get the ambulance back on track, not only financially but operationally as well. This was good news for all present.
It’s a lot to ask a non-profit volunteer board to oversee the operation of an ambulance service. The Ely hospital has to be a collaborative partner every step of the way. Due to Covid, administrative turnover and other issues, the non-profit board was left with nowhere to turn but to local governments for life support.
Healing the problems is now being prescribed and soon will be administered. The future of how the ambulance service will operate is likely to change from how it is today. Elected officials have been willing to help, but there needs to be assurances this isn’t a regular procedure.