In the 1950s and 1960s, if you needed to get to the hospital and could not do it on your own, you called one of the two local funeral homes in Elkader. But, on May 1, 1969 Witt’s Funeral Home and McTaggart’s Furniture, who also operated a funeral home, made a joint announcement stating that they would discontinue ambulance service. Until that date, the two firms had been on call to respond to health care emergencies. Following that announcement, the Elkader Police Department was responsible for ambulance transportation of patients using an ambulance donated by the Witts.
In the late 1960s, government regulations started to come in to play as the need for standardized emergency training for rescue squad personnel, policemen, firemen and ambulance attendants became apparent. This standardization led to the first nationally recognized curriculum published in 1969 for EMS – emergency medical technician-ambulance (EMT-A). Many consider this document to be the birth of modern EMS. During this period the City of Elkader looked to Central Community Hospital as a source for this training and a relationship developed between the two entities. In 1970 a new ambulance was purchased by the city and volunteer ambulance drivers were trained to man the vehicle. Formal emergency medical training was also given to those volunteering to serve in the new Emergency Services unit. The new ambulance was housed downtown behind the Opera House. The location was later moved in 1996 to 209 South Main St next to the Elkader Fire Station. The hospital sponsored fundraisers through the years to help support the new EMS unit as equipment and training needs grew. In the early 1990s the relationship between the City of Elkader and the hospital grew to a partnership as a financial commitment was made by the hospital to become the employer for the ambulance personnel.
In 2010 plans were underway to build a new Emergency Services building in a more efficient location which would house the Fire Department and Central EMS. The new building would have four bays for the fire department, two bays for the ambulance department, increased storage, a back-up helicopter landing area and a storm shelter/safe room. The project was completed and the new EMS building is now located at 921 Humphrey St NE, Elkader.
The Central Ambulance Service area is generally within a 15-20 mile radius of Elkader and provide mutual aid to all surrounding services if needed. They are assisted by other volunteers in surrounding communities who have completed a First Responder course. The First Responders are certified in CPR and other emergency medical techniques. They are able to reach victims within minutes of the call and stabilize the patient before the ambulance arrives. First Responders are located in Garnavillo, Garber, St. Olaf, Farmersburg and Volga. The Central Ambulance Service functions under the overall medical direction and EMS Manager. The crew members are paid on-call by Central Community Hospital and run approximately 300-400 calls a year including inter-facility transports from CCH. The equipment and supplies in the ambulance are purchased by the hospital. Some of the equipment used in the ambulance has been donated by individuals or through the accumulation of memorials designated for the ambulance service.
Volunteers Needed –
The Central Ambulance Service relies on the dedicated service of their professionals. Volunteers are constantly needed to become a trained professional as members retire or move away. Each time the ambulance leaves the garage there are three volunteers in it, a driver and two specially trained individuals for patient care. Drivers are certified in CPR and all other members have completed training as an EMT, Advanced EMT or a Paramedic.
For EMS inquiries please contact Central Community Hospital, 563-245-7000.