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W’bago Ambulance down in numbers

Community members are encouraged to fill vacancies

March 3, 2013
by Lacey Sawatzky - Register Staff Writer (lsawatzky@faribaultcountyregister.com) , Faribault County Register

A town with its own ambulance department is something one may take for granted.

It is a department that involves people putting in a lot of effort to provide a very important service to the community.

The Winnebago Ambulance Department has been putting in twice the effort lately, as the number of members on the department continues to decline.

Article Photos

Winnebago Area Ambulance Captain, Josh More.

The ambulance captain, Joshua More, says the department is currently exploring options for recruiting new members.

That was a relief to the council after they had approved another resignation from the department at the Feb. 12 council meeting.

The resignation came from Roque Gonzalez after he had served on the ambulance department for 14 years.

"We've had three amazing recruits that moved, one retired and one went on leave," More says. "That depleted our force pretty quickly."

He says that the department is currently down to 13 on active duty, which is about half of what they need.

According to More, it is a long process to get an individual fully acclimated to serving on the ambulance department.

The required training

takes a full semester, and after that is complete, there is a probationary period.

"It takes about a year before they are ready,"?More adds. "The next class doesn't start for another six months."

The department is using this time to encourage people in the community to pick up applications and start thinking about joining the department.

"We are looking for members of the community who live or work in town that can fulfill the responsibilities,"?he says.

The only requirement to fill the position is for applicants to be at least 18 years old.

Those interested can obtain an application at the Winnebago Municipal Center.

The department will conduct interviews once applications are submitted.

"We want to make sure they are appropriate for the position," More says. "We also use the interviews as a time to explain what being on the ambulance department is all about."

The city pays for the semester-long training that is required for EMTs, which makes it necessary to ensure applicants are serious and dedicated.

"We are flexible with people's availability and it's an empowering thing to be a part of," More adds. "You will have a knowledge of pre-hospital care and you can help someone with the training you have."

In the meantime, the current staff on the ambulance department has been committed to putting in the extra hours.

An ambulance run generally goes out with a crew of around three people and members of the department are on a day shift or a night shift.

"So, we have six positions to fill every day with around 13 people,"?he adds. "This group of people we have is very dedicated."

The department may have low numbers now which has required that they advertise through word of mouth, at council meetings and community events but they realize recruitment will need to be an ongoing effort.

More says they have even formed a committee to continue recruiting community members.

"We don't want it to fall by the wayside," he adds.

In 2012, the Winnebago Area Ambulance crew responded to 323 calls, an increase from previous years.

The crew is currently lacking members that are able to cover weekday shifts, but encourages anyone in the community interested to apply at city hall.

"If people want to give back to their community or have ever thought of joining the ambulance crew, now is the time to get involved,"?More says. "It's enjoyable to work together and the crew becomes like a family."

 
 

 

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