The Spring Grove Ambulance is recruiting for EMTs and EMRs. Call Angie at (507) 498-3098 to sign up.
Spring Grove Ambulance held an informational meeting at the Spring Grove Cinema on Wednesday, January 19, from 7-8 p.m. Residents and other interested parties were invited to attend and hear from the Minnesota EMS Regulatory Board, Spring Grove Ambulance, and Caledonia Ambulance. Attendees were given ample time to ask questions.
After introductions and recognizing the Spring Grove volunteer ambulance crew, Holly Jacobs, Minnesota EMS Regulatory Board, explained the three options available to Spring Grove.
The three options available to Spring Grove Ambulance are (1) service continues as is and Spring Grove keep recruiting, which has not been successful, and there is the possibility that they will face disciplinary action and closure in the future, (2) change ownership with a neighboring ambulance service that shares a common border, Caledonia being the best option, or (3) merge services with a neighbor and Spring Grove relinquishing its license.
Jacobs added that option number two is a good model, and two other communities in Minnesota are operating under that model, and it is working well. However, she does not think option three is a good decision.
Director Mike Tornstrom Caledonia Ambulance acknowledged the effort Spring Grove Ambulance Manager Angie Halverson dedicates to recruiting. Currently, Spring Grove Ambulance has seven EMTs and two EMRs. A total of 20 would be a good number to have. Regulations require that two crew members are on call 24/7. Currently, not all the shifts are being covered.
“Over the last six months, Caledonia covered 12 hours on one day in July; in August, there were none; in September, it was six hours on one day; in October, it was 22 hours on four days; in November, it was 20 hours on two days, in December it was zero. So far this year, they have covered one shift. It was not a ton of hours. If we don’t get those shifts covered, this is where we get in trouble with the state. So that’s why we are trying to be proactive,” explained Halverson. Spring Grove has an agreement with Caledonia in place to help cover shifts.
Jacobs referenced the January 2 NFL situation. Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest on the field, and the “lowest paid person on the field” saved his life. A volunteer’s time was valued at $29.95 per hour in the in the April 2022 Value of Volunteer Time Report/Independent Sector Resources.
An EMT in Spring Grove makes $3 an hour, and an EMR makes $2 an hour for being on call. Runs to La Crosse pay $40, and runs to Decorah, Waukon, Winona, and Rochester pay $60.
Taxes are paid per capita for ambulance service, and in the Spring Grove service area, which includes five townships, it is $10.00. In the Caledonia service area, it is $16.00. Jacobs posed the question, “Who is really subsidizing the service.?” Answering her own question, “It is the people doing the work.”
The training to become an EMR or EMT is lengthy. EMR training is 50 hours over six weeks, and EMT training is 150 to 180 hours scheduled over three months, followed by testing at the end, which totals four or five months. Caledonia has its own training center and is dedicated to training its own. Tornstrom noted that Caledonia has trained Spring Grove recruits.
In addition to class time, volunteers often travel outside their service area for training, which adds additional time that the volunteer must be away from home in the evening or on weekends. To have an instructor come to Spring Grove, 12 students are required to hold the class.
Training meetings are held the first Wednesday of the month in Spring Grove and are required. Volunteers need to have the training in order to recertify their EMT or EMR license.
The time commitment for volunteers put is astonishing. For example, spring Grove Administrative Assistant Stephanie Jaster and former Spring Grove Police Chief Paul Folz log between 300-450 hours per month. It was noted that Spring Grove does not have a time commitment, but maybe it should since the training is paid for.
Spring Grove Ambulance board offers a nice training bonus at Christmas time, pays for any training needed or attended, and for apparel.
In rural Minnesota, volunteers are needed during the day, holidays, and summer.
Unfortunately, there are Spring Grove employers that do not let their employees off to go on a call, making it challenging to recruit volunteers as most have full-time jobs.
A change has been made by the state. In the past, volunteers were required to live within a two-mile radius of the ambulance shed. Now volunteers can live within ten miles of the ambulance shed.
Spring Grove Ambulance President Todd Passig posed the last question of the evening. “Is there anyone in the audience opposed to what the Spring Grove Ambulance is doing?” No one spoke up and voiced their opposition.
If you are interested in serving on the Spring Grove Ambulance crew or have any questions, contact Halverson at (507) 498-3098.