EMT volunteers needed in Bayfield, Ashland Counties

By KBJR News 1

September 4, 2014 Updated Sep 4, 2014 at 12:27 PM CDT

Washburn, WI (NNCNOW.com)--- Twelve emergency medical services throughout Ashland and Bayfield Counties are having trouble recruiting and keeping volunteer EMT's.

Ten of the twelve ambulance services rely solely on volunteers, and could face closure if volunteers don't step up to the plate.

A lack of volunteers could mean longer response times from outside ambulance services.

"If we add another 20 minutes of transport time to get to our, or response time, to get to the person, that could be very crucial or critical to that family," said Dan Clark, Director of the Washburn Area Ambulance Service.

In the City of Washburn, for every four volunteers that go through EMT training, only one becomes an active EMT

The toughest challenge for Washburn is filling the Monday through Friday dayshift.

If the crisis continues, officials say they may have to outsource ambulance services to Ashland or hire full-time EMT's...a change that would put an added burden on taxpayers in the rural town.

"If we hire full time services, we're talking a couple hundred thousand dollars in added costs to communities that are already, because of changes to Wisconsin's taxes, their already frozen on what their tax levy is so it would be a huge impact," said Clark.

Lisa Verville has been a volunteer EMT for a year and a half in Washburn. Verville is concerned with the shortage for EMT's and the impact it is having on her own team.

"You don't know who is gonna show up with you. You know you look at the schedule and there is blanks on the schedule but you hope that you can provide the services that you need," said Lisa Verville.

Verville hopes more people step forward and be someone's hero.

"We're actually saving lives. We're doing more than someone would realize and to be able to see that you're helping the community by how much you're volunteering and by how much you're getting back, it's amazing," said Verville.

Volunteers are compensated one dollar an hour while they are on call, and $34 for each emergency call they respond to.

If you wish to become a volunteer EMT in Bayfield and Ashland County, a class is starting at WITC in Ashland on September 16.

Contact your local ambulance service if you are interested.

Written and posted to the web by Raeanna Marnati