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Desperate for volunteers

By Staff | Jul 27, 2009

Roque Gonsalez, captain of the Winnebago Area Ambulance Service, is looking for a few good people interested in becoming a crew member.

Like most small rural communities, Winnebago is finding it difficult to recruit new ambulance crew members.

And, it isn’t because city officials aren’t trying.

This month the ambulance department has spent more than $1,300 on radio and newspaper advertising in hopes of signing up new people.

The offer to be an EMT isn’t just for local residents; even out-of-towners are being encouraged to apply.

“It’s pretty drastic. We’re not at the critical point, but our numbers are low,” says Roque Gonsalez, captain of the Winnebago Area Ambulance Service.

Right now, there are 18 EMTs and Gonsalez says that’s the lowest it has been during the 10 years he has served on the ambulance crew.

Several recent retirements have hit the department hard.

Also adding to the problem are people moving out of town for employment reasons.

Ideally, Gonsalez would like to have a crew of 25.

“We’ll have to buckle down and rely on our people to take on more shifts and hours,” he says.

So far, recruiting efforts have resulted in three people signing up.

Because many people work out of town during the day, says Gonsalez, finding help to handle morning and afternoon calls can be tough.

There are two employers in town, he says, that allow workers to leave their jobs to go out on calls.

“It would be a great help if more employers did that,” adds Gonsalez.

For more of this story, see this week’s Register.