Village asked to pay ambulance fees
Gold Cross service faster from New London
By Scott Bellile
Gold Cross Ambulance Service is calling upon the village of Hortonville to join a consortium of area communities that pay to support the nonprofit emergency transport service.
Although Gold Cross currently responds to Hortonville’s 911 medical calls, Hortonville doesn’t pay the full-time paramedic unit. Joining the consortium would mean residents would fund costs associated with Gold Cross’ vehicles, equipment, worker education and salaries.
The Hortonville Village Board discussed the topic at its meeting on Thursday, Aug. 20. Gold Cross operations director David Rae made his case to the board for joining the consortium, which is currently comprised of New London, Waupaca and 15 other less-populated local communities.
Through its regionalized dispatch approach, Gold Cross employs three paramedic units locally that are rotated based on whichever vehicle is closest to an emergency. The workers on board are full-time paramedics who are used to urgent situations, Rae said.
“You get people that are running a lot of calls, getting a lot of experience,” Rae said.
Gold Cross has serviced Hortonville since 2004, when the village dropped New London Ambulance Service. According to Hortonville Police Chief Mike Sullivan, Gold Cross offered quicker response times and onboard paramedics.
Switching to Gold Cross saved the people of Hortonville from paying an average of $10,000 per year in subsidies to New London Ambulance. The high volume of 911 calls in the Fox Valley, where Gold Cross ambulances were dispatched from, meant Gold Cross generated enough stable revenue from its customers that it didn’t need to charge Hortonville.
However, last year Gold Cross bought out New London Ambulance. Gold Cross now sends ambulances on Hortonville 911 runs from New London rather than from the Fox Valley because response times from New London average 10 minutes, eight minutes fewer than from Appleton.
Because the New London area’s population is significantly smaller than Appleton’s and therefore receives fewer 911 calls, Rae encouraged the board to join the consortium to help support Gold Cross.
Rae said the expected rate per capita would be $6.25 for the first year and $12.50 per year after that. If more communities join the consortium, which Gold Cross is working to expand, then the per capita rate could decrease.
Trustee Kelly Schleif asked Rae what would happen in the situation of a 911 call if Hortonville continues to not pay Gold Cross.
Rae said legally Gold Cross could ignore that caller, but that goes against the organization’s ethics.
“If you’re looking … for me to say we’re not going to send an ambulance [and] we’re not going to serve your community, I’m not prepared to say that,” Rae said.
The village board took no action as the topic was only a discussion item. The board will consider the topic again this fall when planning the next budget.
Village Clerk-Treasurer Lynne Mischker said something will likely need to be cut from the next budget if the village board votes to put Gold Cross in, but it could be done.
In a follow-up conversation on Monday, Aug. 24, Sullivan said he supports the consortium. He said for the same price as dinner for one at a restaurant, a person could rely on speedy ambulance service for a year.
Stalled Highway 15 bypass
The village board voted 5-1 to send a letter to representatives in the State Legislature and the Outagamie County Highway Commissioner urging them to keep the State Highway 15 bypass project on schedule to begin in 2018. Jeff Schuh voted against.
The resolution states a further delay would negatively impact Hortonville’s safety, planning and economic development. Highway 15’s insufficiencies in roadway structure and design already create safety issues, the resolution argues.
The village aims to begin replacing the Black Otter Dam bridge on County Highway M in three to five years and would face traffic issues if the bypass project went on at the same time.
The two-year expressway project to connect New London to Greenville was slated to begin in 2016. It was already delayed once. Its future is uncertain as lawmakers continue to debate how state funding should be used.