Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Ely ambulance service seeks donations for new home

Keith Vandervort
Posted 11/7/19

ELY – The Ely Area Ambulance Service (EAAS) is seeking to raise as much as $1.4 million to replenish their financial reserves and to help fund construction of a new ambulance garage.

According …

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Ely ambulance service seeks donations for new home

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ELY – The Ely Area Ambulance Service (EAAS) is seeking to raise as much as $1.4 million to replenish their financial reserves and to help fund construction of a new ambulance garage.

According to EAAS Director Geoff Galaski, the EAAS has seen an increase in personnel costs resulting from the need to provide round-the-clock staff availability after Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital ceased employing EMTs in 2017. “This increase in operational costs has depleted our financial reserves,” Galaski said in a fundraising push launched recently on Facebook.

“As we continue to provide high quality part-time ALS (advanced life support) service to the Ely area communities, we are also seeking support as we need to build a facility to house our ambulances and staff in one location,” he added.

The ambulance service will need to relocate as a result of the proposed expansion of the Ely hospital, which will utilize space currently taken up by the ambulance garage.

The city of Ely has donated land, located on the northeast corner of Pattison St. W and S Second Ave. W, to build a new facility.

Galaski said the current plan calls for a 5,940 sq. ft facility, including 3,240 sq. ft. to house vehicles and 2,700 sq. ft. for offices and living quarters for the ambulance crew. “This will provide quicker response times as staff will be housed in the same building as the ambulances,” said Galaski. “Currently we have no training or meeting space and space for the ambulances and supplies is inadequate.”

At an estimated $250-per-square-foot construction estimate, the cost of the building is currently estimated at $1.4 million. Annual operational costs for the new facility are estimated at $35,000.

“We are beginning to search for eligible grants for the project,” Galaski said. “We also have a Facebook donation site on our Ely Area Ambulance Facebook page, that has already generated close to $2,000. And Ely Drop & Shop raised $535.45 for us in the month of October. We welcome any and all donations for this much needed project.”

The Ely Area Ambulance Service was formed as a not-for-profit corporation in 2008 after the Ely hospital ceased operation of their own ambulance service. Ely, Winton, and surrounding townships formed Ambulance Joint Powers Board to contribute tax dollars toward the service to ensure operation, according to Galaski.

The joint powers board contributes $5.05 per person living in their respective communities of Ely, Fall Lake Township, Morse Township and Winton. “That contribution of tax dollars amounted to just $26,618 for 2018,” Galaski said. “This represents only three percent of our total budget. We rely on patients and insurance companies to pay their bills for us to operate.”

Galaski argues that the current ambulance garage conditions are primitive. “It has no water or sewer and the floor drains run into the ground,” he said. “We have four stalls with one of them used as the executive director’s office in a module room that floods annually due to freezing drain lines.”

The garage was previously moved and pieced back together and has poor insulation and is not very heat efficient, he added. “It doesn’t have enough room for storage or the ambulances themselves as we have to navigate within inches through the doors.”

Due to staffing requirements, the EAAS must rent a house for staff to stay in while on duty. “This house is five blocks away from the ambulances, causing a slower response time,” Galaski said.

Other needs

Galaski also listed other needs of the EAAS.

Lucas device (for automated chest compressions). “We currently have one, which was donated to us by the Ely-Bloomenson Community Hospital Foundation. We need two more so all of our ambulances have this valuable piece of equipment,” he said. “The Lucas device provides consistent chest compressions as providers fatigue easily after two minutes of CPR.” Cost for two devices is $32,000.

Ambulance replacement. “We need to begin replacing our two 2012 ambulances as the mileage is close to 100,000 miles and we are getting to the eight-year mark next spring,” Galaski said.

To cut costs, the EAAS is exploring a remount option for one of the ambulances as the patient module is in good condition, he said. The estimated cost is $103,257.

“We are also exploring a van-style ambulance, to be our primary transport ambulance to also cut costs,” Galaski said. A current quote for a brand new Type II ambulance in this style is $133,888.

“Both of these options total $237,145, and that is about the cost of the purchase price of our 2017 ambulance,” he said.

ely ambulance

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