Holiday weekend strains Wis. volunteer EMS

Crews were busy and short-staffed over Memorial Day weekend, saying it points to a bigger-picture need for more funding and volunteers


MOUNTAIN, Wis. — Mountain Ambulance Service might not get many calls on a typical weekday, but when it rains it pours — and Memorial Day weekend was the ultimate example of the dire need for EMT volunteers and funding, which have plagued the various departments that are part of the Northeast Wisconsin Rural EMS Task Force.

”We were strapped. We had eleven calls,” said Michael Rzepka, EMT Retention Officer and Extrication Tech for Mountain Ambulance Service. ”We had our first unit out. We got a second call; our second unit went out, and we were trying to scurry out so that we could still have coverage.”

Mountain doesn’t have staff to accommodate the influx of vacationers, and has no surplus of volunteers willing to wait around the office for a call like they do. Like many rural emergency service departments, they’re fighting extinction. Mountain’s population is declining, and the average age is mid-50s.

Read full story: Rural EMS: in-demand and short staffed on holiday weekends

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