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New ambulance station planned in Clintonville

The Clintonville Area Ambulance Service (CAAS) has begun fundraising efforts for a new, centralized facility.

“Right now, we have two stations and a business office – and they’re all separate,” said CAAS Director Don Kimlicka. “We own our main ambulance garage in Clintonville, but lease the business office and the Marion ambulance garage. It works the way it is, but now that both of our stations are fully staffed 24 hours per day, we need to look at other efficiencies.”

The main ambulance garage in Clintonville was constructed in 1948 and is beginning to show its age.

“The Clintonville garage was built well, but cracks are beginning to show in the walls. We’re also thinking ahead to the North Main Street reconstruction project that will take place in the next 3-5 years, and it could be a problem to exit the garage into a construction zone. We’ve looked at knocking out the back wall, but that would cost about $20,000, and we’d still be in an old building.”

Kimlicka also stated that CAAS pays $15,000 annually to rent the business office in Clintonville. Though CAAS doesn’t pay rent to the City of Marion, the service does pay for utility and insurance costs for the small space they occupy. Kimlicka said that facility needs a new roof and costs over $500 per month to heat during the winter, noting that the building isn’t very energy efficient.

“Our space in Marion is very small and has no windows,” Kimlicka said. “It’s useful, but it’s not conducive for a good working environment.”

Response time to accidents is one of the biggest considerations Kimlicka has considered.

“We’d like our new station to be somewhere between Clintonville and Marion,” Kimlicka explained. “It makes sense to centralize our operations between these two cities, because roughly 85 percent of our calls are either in the City of Clintonville or the City of Marion. We are in the process of figuring out what we need and what it will cost.

“Our response time to either city will increase by about one minute at best,” said Kimlicka. “We’ve timed it out at emergency response speeds. The number of calls where a minute might make a difference is less than 1 percent of all the calls we receive, so it’s not a huge concern; however, response time will certainly be one of our biggest concerns in choosing a location.”

Kimlicka said CAAS employees Shelly Schroepfer and Emily Phillips have been working on fundraising projects, along with the EMT Association. He said many CAAS employees are eager to get started on this project.

“We had a brat fry last weekend, and we sold out,” Kimlicka said. “We received lots of support from the community. We want to avoid requesting funds from the taxpayers for this project. In the end, we will see an incredible improvement in efficiencies once we consolidate our operations to one centralized location.

“We’re also looking at grant funding through the USDA, but there aren’t many available for ambulance services that are not linked to a fire department or hospital,” Kimlicka said. “We don’t qualify for most grants, but we’re trying to get the word out and explain our situation to those who award the grants. Many think we are a private service, but we are not-we are owned by the municipalities we serve. It’s a very rare style.”

Kimlicka said the City of Clintonville operated the ambulance service at one time, and it was offered to the fire department at one time, but it wasn’t conducive to the fire department to merge the services. This led area municipalities to join together and run the service as joint owners.

Currently, CAAS serves the Cities of Clintonville and Marion, Village of Embarrass, and the towns of Bear Creek, Dupont, Larrabee, Matteson, Grant, and Navarino. CAAS is contracted to cover the village of Big Falls and the town of Wyoming.

The total coverage area is roughly 340 square miles, with a total population of about 12,000.

“To give an example, it takes us 20 minutes to respond to a call in Pella,” Kimlicka said. “Country roads out there have lots of curves, and it just takes longer to get there.”

Kimlicka said he and Deputy Director Brad Brehm are looking at other buildings and costs for a new facility. “We want to come up with an outline and then price it out from there,” said Kimlicka.

“This was part of my five-year plan when I brought it up last year,” explained Kimlicka. “These buildings can be put up in six months. Our timeline is to try to do it sooner rather than later, as costs will only go up over time.”

To donate towards the building fund, or share your thoughts, ideas and ask questions, Kimlicka encourages residents to contact CAAS by phone at 715-823-5967 or by email at [email protected].

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