SHELDON—While the city of Archer looks to get out of the ambulance business, Sheldon officials want a better understanding of how this will impact the Sheldon Community Ambulance Team.
O’Brien County Emergency Management Agency coordinator Jared Johnson approached the Sheldon City Council at its regular meeting Wednesday, Dec. 5, to update the city officials on Archer’s plans, which includes formally disbanding its ambulance service before the year ends.
“This summer when Archer Ambulance started having some issues with ambulance coverage due to staffing — they ran into the issue of not having enough staff to run the ambulance — so the ambulance was pretty much kept in the garage since June,” Johnson said.
The Archer Ambulance lost three longtime members in June, including Tom Farnsworth, the then director of the service and one its founders.
Farnsworth resigned out of frustration after losing June’s GOP primary for the District 4 O’Brien County Board of Supervisors seat he has held for 16 years.
In response, the Archer City Council appointed SCAT director Kevin Miller as interim director of its ambulance team June 12 in hopes that he could recruit enough people to save the service.
During the transition period, ambulance coverage of Archer has been provided by three services based on a 2011 contingency plan developed by O’Brien County.
According to the plan, the Archer territory is divided up three ways by SCAT, Sanborn Ambulance and Primghar EMS. SCAT handles calls north of 390th Street and west of Oriole Avenue; Sanborn takes calls east of Oriole Avenue and north of 390th Street while Primghar takes the calls south of 390th Street.
“SCAT has covered three ambulance calls in Archer throughout this calendar year,” Johnson said.
Meanwhile, Miller’s efforts to save the Archer Ambulance appear to have been in vain.
“We ended up having a few meetings for the public to see if anyone from Archer would be interested in taking the emergency medical responder class or the emergency medical technician class and Kevin actually did some door-to-door explaining what is EMS, what are the volunteer hours requirements, time commitments, things like that,” Johnson told the Sheldon City Council.
“At first there were some people who were possibly interested, but after reaching out to them again, a lot of them were no longer interested at that time. So, last month, the Archer City Council did revisit it and at the end of December they will disband their ambulance.”
As part of that decision, the Archer City Council decided to donate most of the equipment from its ambulance to the county’s other ambulance teams and it is trying to sell its ambulance to another local agency.
Councilman Brad Hindt was concerned by how unilateral all of Archer’s decisions have been.
“The way I read in the paper, the plans already been made,” he said.
He thinks there should be a discussion involving Archer officials, a county supervisor and representatives from other communities impacted by this choice since funding is involved.
“There’s a lot of pieces in this puzzle that we need to figure out,” he said.
Hindt also made it clear he is not opposed to Sheldon possibly taking over ambulance coverage in Archer, but wants it done in a manner that’s fiscally responsible and involves more discussion between officials.
“I’m into helping people but I do believe that there is a financial responsibility from the city of Archer when they give up this ambulance — if they want us to preserve their community, they have some stake in this game,” he said.
Johnson was asked by the Sheldon council to approach the Archer council to get it to hold off on its plans with the ambulance.
On the agenda for its Tuesday, Dec. 11, regular meeting, the Archer council has “motion to rescind motion to disband Archer Ambulance” listed.