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Lanesboro City Council hears ambulance staffing dilemma

By Mitchell Walbridge

Fri, Dec 7th, 2012
Posted in Lanesboro Government

Lanesboro Ambulance Director Dave Haugan addressed the Lanesboro City Council on Monday, December 3 at the city’s regular monthly meeting. Haugan and many current ambulance crew members were present to express great concern with the future of the city’s ambulance service. As of March 2013 the ambulance crew will be down to nine EMTs, a number that does not allow for adequate coverage to serve the community. The decline in crew membership is due to retirements and resignations from the squad of volunteers. Haugan explained that with the lack of volunteers, an ambulance service is likely unsustainable.

Colleen Lamon also spoke to the council, sharing that other towns are going through similar staffing challenges. If a lack of volunteers persists, the EMT service may be suspended, and the crew may only serve as a first responder squad. This means that the squad would respond to emergency calls, but would not be allowed to transport those seeking medical attention. A victim would also need to wait for a neighboring EMT team for transport. Lamon said that it would be nice to have a minimum of 20 people on the Lanesboro ambulance team to keep an EMT status and keep quick response times.

Training for EMT status is near 160 hours and there are additional hours for refresher courses every couple of years. Mayor Steve Rahn commented on the complexity for volunteers putting in this many hours saying it is a problem. Rahn suggested a meeting with Senator Jeremy Miller and Representative Greg Davids to address such high requirements.

For now, the Lanesboro ambulance crew has changed the structure of its leadership to function more efficiently with its lack of members. Instead of having squad leaders, the new structure will consist of a director and assistant director. The director position will be filled by Dave Haugan while the assistant director position has yet to be filled. Also, a letter will soon be published in local papers detailing the situation. For interested prospective ambulance volunteers, a meeting will be held January 5, 2013, at 10:00 a.m.

2013 Budget—

Truth in Taxation

Another important issue brought up at the meeting was the proposed 2013 budget. The proposed budget included a four percent levy increase from $435,306 to $452,700—a proposed increase of $17,394. The public had the opportunity to express input because the annual Truth in Taxation hearing took place. Present were Rick Lamon, Colleen Lamon, and Richard Horihan. Horihan stated he was dissatisfied with the increase because of the contributing impact it had on his taxes. He urged the council to make marginable cuts to the proposed budget.

Following the Truth in Taxation Hearing, the board looked into possible cuts and decided to make the budget equivalent to last year’s—at zero percent increase or no change. In order to achieve this, the council cut $7,500 from the “community sustainment” portion of the budget, which would have been a new addition in 2013. Also, the council cut the remaining $9,894 from the “unallocated expense” area, which is usually used in unplanned emergencies or unexpected situations. Even with the cut, there is still $25,262 in the “unallocated expense” area. After making the budget a zero percent increase from the 2012 budget, the council approved a motion to finalize the 2013 budget.

Other Business

The council approved liquor licenses for 2013 for the Lanesboro Art Center. The council also accepted a $300,000 grant for the city dam. A resolution for cooperative snow removal was approved for Highway 250 within Lanesboro. Finally, the board approved the Lanesboro Christmas Carnival to use the Community Center free of charge. Before adjourning, City Administrator Bobbi Vickerman noted that the city office will close at noon on both Christmas Eve and New Years Eve. Also, the city office will be closed both Tuesday, December 25 and Tuesday, January 1, 2013, in observance of Christmas Day and New Years Day.

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