The town of St. Lawrence is considering changing its ambulance service.
Currently, the township of about 707 people is serviced by the Manawa Ambulance Service east of County Road E, and by the Iola Ambulance Service west of County Road E.
When a new five-year agreement was presented at the Dec. 17 meeting of the Manawa Rural Fire/Ambulance Board, the township’s representative did not consent to signing it.
“I can’t sign the five-year agreement because it’s not in the town’s best interest,” said Gary Baumgart. “Looking at the financial end of it, I feel we have to bow out and save the township about $6,000 per year.”
Baumgart said he was advised by his town board not to sign the five-year agreement.
According to the current year-to-year agreement, municipalities are required to give a six-month notice prior to the end of the year.
“To handle this property, St. Lawrence will abide by the old agreement as an annual agreement and give notice by July 2014,” Baumgart said.
“I don’t have any issues with anybody,” he said. “The bottom line is the money.”
According to Baumgart, the St. Lawrence Town Board only recently received its 2014 assessment from the Manawa Ambulance Service. The new assessment is $32.70 per capita (about $15,486), compared to last year’s assessment of about $21.
Baumgart said the Iola Ambulance Service has a 2014 assessment of $14 per capita (about $9.852).
Changing entirely to be covered by Iola Ambulance would affect 30 percent (about 283) of the town’s population. The people located east of County Road E would see about 2-3 minutes added to the ambulance response time, according to Baumgart.
He noted that the township is also serviced by the Ogdensburg-St. Lawrence First Responders, who usually arrive prior to an ambulance and are certified to administer emergency services.
“You have to do what you have to do for the town of St. Lawrence,” said Board President Mary Eck.
The ambulance board agreed to keep St. Lawrence on the current one-year agreement for 2014. This will give the township time to negotiate possible approval from Iola.
It will also give the Manawa Ambulance Board time to make any necessary adjustments.
Board treasurer Jackie Beyer requested that the town of St. Lawrence notify them in writing by July 2014, no matter what is decided.
“It’s not official until we get your letter,” Beyer said.
In other business, the board approved new policy and procedures for the ambulance service.
Ambulance Director Dan Williams suggested that the document be approved and put in place starting Jan. 1, 2014.
“Until something is in place, we’re dealing with the old stuff,” he said.
“It sets a good base for moving forward,” Williams said. “It categorically covers basic things that might happen.”
“We really need to get this in place to give the new ambulance director the tools to do the job properly,” Eck agreed. “It’s black-and-white – there are no gray areas.”
A board member suggested adding that a person should be allowed to have a witness present during questioning.
“That person being disciplined always has the option to bring a third person in as a witness,” Williams said.
He agreed to add the wording to the document, which was approved with that provision.
The board also approved new salary structures and hours for ambulance personnel in 2014.
Cathi Wegener was named as EMS director, starting on Jan. 1, 2014, with Krystal Draeger as EMS assistant director.