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Central Fire chief expects 100 fewer EMS calls in ‘20

Ambulance crews in the Central Fire and EMS District are on track to respond to 100 fewer calls than normal this year, said district chief Joe Mueller at last Thursday’s monthly district meeting.

With the district taking in about $700 per call, Mueller said this drop-off in calls could mean $70,000 less in revenue than originally anticipated for 2020.

EMTs responded to 66 ambulance calls between Sept. 17 and Oct. 14, bringing the yearly total up to 510, according to Mueller’s monthly report to the board.

A year ago, at the October 2019 meeting, the number of ambulance calls was at 583, and by the end of last year, the total was 742.

At earlier meetings this year, local EMTs have said fewer people are calling for ambulance rides to the hospital because of COVID-related fears.

As of Aug. 31, the district had collected a little over $198,000 in ambulance fees, out of a projected total of $210,000 included in the 2020 budget. However, these collections include money owed from ambulance calls in previous years.

For 2021, the district has bumped its expected ambulance revenue up to $275,000 based on the average amount of EMS fees collected over the past few years. This allowed the district to reduce its annual contributions from the seven municipalities in the district by $106,500.

Mueller did say the ambulance crew has been busier in recent weeks, with an average of two to three calls per day.

Other business

_ The board was told that the district has received a $1,000 matching grant from the Wisconsin DNR, which will be used to cover about the cost of six new handheld radios.

_ The board approved $8,092 in total monthly expenditures.

_ Mueller said fire engine specs from Custom Fire Apparatus have been sent to three different truck manufacturers so they can prepare proposals and cost quotes for the district to consider. Board chairman Larry Oehmichen said the board will eventually need to decide whether it wants a custom or commercial chassis for its new fire truck.

_ Mueller said the district deployed two vehicles — a brush truck and a UTV — to assist the Clark County Sheriff’s Department in its search for a 27-yearold Loyal woman missing since Oct. 3. He said authorities have searched an area near a cell phone tower where the woman’s phone last “pinged,” but nothing has been found.

_ The board was informed that longtime Abbotsford firefighter Mark Gorke is retiring at the end of the month. Mueller invited board members to a districtwide meeting tonight (Wednesday) to see him receive a retirement gift.