SHELDON—The Sheldon Community Ambulance Team is expanding its fleet to three.
The Sheldon City Council approved a request from the agency to purchase a third ambulance when it met Wednesday, Nov. 20.
The vehicle will come from Arrow Manufacturing of Rock Rapids and the cost of it and a new medical cot will be $198,782.
The city set aside $200,000 for a new ambulance — the money will come from local option sales tax funds — in the fiscal year 2019-20 budget.
O’Brien County also is contributing $17,814.13 as well as $3,685.84 from the city of Archer as part of a intergovernmental emergency medical services coverage agreement.
SCAT director Kevin Miller noted the uptick in calls the agency is going on.
He told the council that in 2015 the agency went on 543 calls — that dropped to 441 in 2016, which is when the now-defunct private ambulance service Midwest Medical opened — and is on pace to reach more than 600 in 2019.
SCAT went on 625 calls last year.
“We are also seeing various times where SCAT 1 and SCAT 2 are out of town due to various needs — whether it’s a 911 call, whether it’s a transfer — we are seeing that become a problem that we are having,” Miller said.
Additionally, Miller noted SCAT was expected to only get about $6,500 if it traded in SCAT 1, which has about 123,000 miles on it.
“It would be in the best interest of our community and taxpayers to just retain that and make us a fleet of three; always ensuring that we are having a rig in city limits or available for 911 calls,” Miller said.
At previous meetings, Miller has talked about SCAT becoming regional, something he foresees being an issue as other ambulance teams in the area struggle to recruit or fold as the former Archer Ambulance Service did.
Before the vote, mayor Greg Geels asked Miller if has the personnel to operate a third ambulance. SCAT has had trouble with finding people to join the volunteer service in the past.
“We have a rig, but will we have the people to man the rig,” Geels said.
“Absolutely,” Miller said.
SCAT has about two dozen members, which Miller said was the same as it was in 2015.
Based on that staffing model, Miller said if SCAT 1 and SCAT 2 were unavailable, they would page out Sheldon SCAT first responders and Sheldon Fire Co. and those people would man the ambulance.
Councilman Brad Hindt, also first assistant fire chief, said Sheldon Fire Co. and Sheldon Emergency Management Agency met with SCAT recently and all parties are on board with the plan.
Sheldon Fire Co. second assistant chief Scott Meinecke also told the council that when SCAT 1 and SCAT 2 are gone and firefighters arrive on the scene to assist, they usually have to wait 10-15 minutes until another town’s ambulance shows up.
“This will eliminate a lot of that time by having a transporting ambulance available,” he said.
Councilman Shawn Broesder asked Miller if he was worried adding another ambulance would burn out volunteerism.
“We have actually talked to all the members on our team and, as you can see, they all support this idea,” Miller said gesturing to about a dozen SCAT members in the audience.