History of Clear Lake EMS

It all started back in 1975...

...when the then known Clear Lake Municipal Ambulance service formed to respond to calls for emergency medical needs.  At the start, the ambulance service was owned by the Village of Clear Lake and served all or portions of the Villages of Clear Lake and Clayton and the towns of Clear Lake, Vance Creek, Black Brook, and Forest. Through the years, the ambulance service has also covered parts of Cylon, Alden, Turtle Lake, and New Haven Township.  Today, the service covers all of the Village of Clear Lake and the towns of Clear Lake and Vance Creek as well as parts of Black Brook, Forest, and New Haven township accounting for a population of around 3865.  

In 1985, the ambulance service added an extrication device known as the "Jaws of Life" and was purchased with funds from community donations and fund-raising projects.  

In 1991, the community again came together to provide funds to purchase a defibrillator at a cost of $6,000.  

In 1992, a Ford Rescue "Supermedic" ambulance was purchased for $64,000 and the existing ambulance was donated to the Clear Lake Fire Department.  

Through the years since, several grants were applied for to purchase equipment for the service including $4,000 from Otto Bremer Foundation for a radio system and cot (cost of $5,128), and $2,500 from another organization for pediatric emergency supplies.  

In 2014, the ambulance service purchased a new ambulance at a cost of $164,000!!  The new ambulance was a Ford F450 truck chassis and provided 4x4 capability for those harsh winter weather conditions.  Also in 2014, We applied for and received a grant for $40,000 to replace our defibrillator and purchase an automated CPR device known as an Auto Pulse.  

In 2016, the Clear Lake Ambulance Board recognized the need for better patient moving equipment and authorized the purchase of an Powered cot and auto-loading system at a cost of $43,000 from Stryker.  The total purchase was spread out over 5 years on a low interest loan for which the funds come from the general funds for the service!  

In 2018, recognizing a need for a secondary or back-up ambulance, the Board authorize a purchase for a used ambulance from our neighbors at Baldwin EMS.  This unit, known as Unit 2, is a 2010 Ford E350 van chassis with a standard ambulance box.  It wasn't as fancy at the still shiny new 2014 Ford, but it's served it purpose keeping Clear Lake Ambulance in service more and providing coverage to our neighbors in Amery and Barron County.  

The ambulance service is funded around 60% by patient billing.  The other 40% is from municipal support from the municipals we serve.  We base our rate on something called per-capita, which means "for each person".  We have historically been one of the lowest per-capita services in Western Wisconsin with a rate of $10 per resident through 2014, then $12 per resident in 2015 through 2018.  In 2019, seeing a need to raise our hourly pay to increase staffing, the Board approved a rate of $16 per resident; still one of the lowest rates in the region.  

In 1995, basic charges for service was $165 and $3 per mile to the hospital from the scene.  There were also charges for each additional item used including bandaids, oxygen, and even linen.  Today, the rates are much higher; however, we only charge a flat rate per call.  To see more info on this, visit our billing page.  

From the beginning and through this day, the ambulance service is owned by the Village of Clear Lake and operated by a Board of Directors that represent the municipalities we serve.  That board hires a Director to handle the day-to-day operations of the service while the board handles setting the per-capita rates and ensure the service runs in the best interest of the citizens it serves...exactly how a community ambulance service should be!

The EMT's and EMR's of Clear Lake Ambulance are all community members whether they live in the district or not.  Each of them gives time and effort to the community to respond to calls for emergency medical services.  Currently, EMT's are paid $3.00 per hour to be available for calls and $20-$30 per call if they are called in to service.  The Director receives $700 per month to run the day-to-day operations and is supported by two captains (one for maintenance and one for training) who each receive $100 for their additional roles with the service.  

For over 40 years, Clear Lake Area Ambulance service has provided emergency medical services to the surrounding area of Clear Lake and we expect to continue serving for many more!