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Advance Life Support Service Discussed In Vilas Co.

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Dispatch information for ambulance calls in the Vilas County was again discussed by the Vilas County Paramedic/EMS ad hoc committee seeking to determine if additional advance life support (ALS) services should be developed to cover areas of the county where no town-based ALS exists and try to determine what it may cost to establish additional service.

Presently the town of Arbor Vitae and the city of Eagle River along with adjacent towns of Washington, Lincoln, and Cloverland and part of Hiles pay additional contract costs to have ALS on all ambulance calls. Other towns have to determine what the medical issue is they are responding to if they should call for ALS services. While the number of calls needing ALS is not tracked, the consensus was 20% to 25% of calls require ALS according to Tim Clark, head of the county fire chiefs, which is close to the national average according to Vilas County emergency government director Jim Galloway.

Town of Presque Isle chairman Marshall Reckard agreed not all calls require an ALS response. “About 26% of our calls had ALS requested,” Reckard said. “We call the medical helicopter but until I load a patient there is no charge for the helicopter. Of 100 emergency calls we respond to, 50 will be 'get me up' lifeline calls.” Calls for “lifting assistance” is growing as our population ages and many times the assistance is for the same location.

The number of ambulance calls varies among towns according to Lt. Greg Fulton of the Vilas County Sheriff's department with 615 in Lac du Flambeau double the call volume of other towns. Supervisor Bob Hanson who is from Lac du Flambeau felt they had to call Arbor Vitae or Howard Young saying there was a “crisis of confidence” in their ambulance service due to many times their ambulance “can't respond for lack of people available” and “we need employees to let staff respond to emergency medical calls.”

Committee chairman Marv Anderson said he was thinking of establishing “chase or fly cars” each with two person certified ALS staffs operating 24/7 in two locations, one in the east-southeast part of the county and the other in the west-northwest portion. He thought the price would be around $1.5 million and would include not an ambulance but an adequately equipped vehicle. Tim Clark felt the feeling going around was the county would “take over” the present ambulance services towns have but Anderson said that wasn't right because “the request was for ALS and not to take over.”

Anderson wanted the next step to meet with the town fire departments and municipalities to further define the problem, define possible solutions, define costs and who pays, and maybe if certain towns might contract themselves for ALS services like Arbor Vitae and the Eagle River area has

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