History of Oostburg Ambulance
It took a long, seemingly unending time. But at last, it was accomplished! On May 23, 1974, the very first call for Oostburg Rescue Squad was behind them. How did it start? Here’s the story:
December 1, 1970: A letter written by Dr. W.A. Forkner from the Emergency Medical Services Council of Sheboygan County Highway Safety Commission was sent to Oostburg Fire Chief Lauren DeTroye offering a pilot project for emergency medical services (EMS). Here is what developed in Lauren’s words written in 1974:
” … Sheboygan County … was relying solely on private ambulance operations for its emergency medical services. As Federal funds became available for an emergency vehicle, several communities were contacted and Oostburg was found to be receptive to accepting a funded vehicle. The Oostburg Rescue Vehicle is owned by Sheboygan County, who has contracted with the Oostburg Fire Department for them to provide service to your community…it was intended to provides service for all LIFE-THREATENING emergencies due to illness or accidents, to act as a back-up unit for the Oostburg Fire Department and to provide regular ambulance services when a private service is not available in your area…This was done for the following reasons: #1 personnel who man this unit work on full time jobs; #2 using the rescue unit for routine conveyances would leave your area unprotected for real emergencies; and #3 it is not the intent of Sheboygan County or the
Oostburg Fire Department, as per their contract, to compete with private business…if a caller is unsure of the victim’s condition, the call will be accepted.”
“The rescue unit is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. It is manned by 16 trained emergency medical technicians (EMT’s) who are members of the Fire Department. The services of the rescue vehicle are available by calling the Sheboygan County Fire Dispatcher, telephone number 458-9191, or contacting the Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Department, telephone number 457-3677.”
From remodeled hearses present in the county, Oostburg Rescue Squad was formed with a modern 1973 Chevy converted van sharing the space with Oostburg Fire Department. The first recorded minutes were on August 7, 1972 with 15 members who had attended EMT training meetings. The first year of service in 1974 rendered 31 runs.
NOW FOR THE REST OF THE STORY:
1976-77: 911 capabilities began.
1985: The Village of Oostburg owned the ambulance and turned all the billing, maintenance and training over to the members of Oostburg Rescue Squad.
1987: Members voted and trained to become EMT Intermediates giving the capability to establish IV’ s, administer epinephrine for allergic reactions, narcan for drug overdoses, D50 for diabetic reactions, defibrillate (shock) patients with cardiac arrest, insert advanced airways offering improved breathing along with the oxygen already given.
Due to the foresight of the leadership of Oostburg Rescue Squad, funding had been set aside regularly to allow the purchase of a second ambulance – a 1987 Braun – for $55,022 without supplies and equipment!
1988: Training was completed, new vehicle purchased and the EMT-Intermediate program was up and running on April 15, 1988, with its new 1987 Braun ambulance as first unit out and the 1973 Chevy ambulance as a back up. Growth began!
7/24/89: 911 Enhanced was instituted giving the capability to monitor the address from where the phone call was made.
1989: On· December 6, ground was broken for addition to the old council rooms enabling Oostburg Rescue Squad to house their two ambulances in a new bay with an office and the old council room used for a training area.
1990: First meeting held in the new office on April 2.
1992: The name of Oostburg Rescue Squad was officially changed to OOSTBURG
AMBULANCE on April 20, 1992.
1996: Due to maintenance on 1973 Chevy Van, a new 1997 Braun Ambulance was purchased for $86,000 (without supplies and equipment) retiring the Chevy. The 1973 Chevy Van was donated to JAARS, the aviation portion of Wycliffe Bible Translators that transports missionaries, knowing that JAARS had skilled mechanics on their staff.
March 18, 2000: Other medications have been added (aspirin and nitro for heart attacks, albuterol and atrovent for asthma), the EMS field continues to grow and change as more and more skills are brought out into the field to save lives. As skills increase, so does training and bookwork! January 1999 brought the first paid office staff to do the billing and keep up on changes in the laws governing skills, stocking of ambulance, Medicare, OSHA, Federal mandates, etc.
March 9, 2001: Runs have increased from 31 a year to 292 in 2000 – a grand total of 4324 since May 23, 1974!! Accepting Medicare Assignment has been mandated by the HCFA (Federal) for all ambulance services in the nation along with a fee schedule. This year, skill levels will change. The EMT Basic will add albuterol nebulizer, aspirin, and glucagon(glucometer) to their skills. The present EMT Intermediates will become EMT Basic IV Tech retaining all their present skills. The new EMT Intermediate will go from 120 hours of training to 300-400 hours with at least 7 new drugs and the skills of nasogastric decompression, needle chest decompression, and intraosseous infusion. At this point, Oostburg Ambulance, being a volunteer organization, will not go to this skill level but maintain the EMT Basic IV Tech.
December 28, 2001: The biggest change of 2001 is the implementation of a new 800 MHZ radio system throughout the entire county on approximately 10/15/01. The old VHF system must still be maintained due to State law requiring instant communication with any hospital in the State of Wisconsin. The Operational Plan is now done on a State template and e-mailed to the State. We have applied for EMT IV Tech status – same skills we now have but a different title – effective June 30, 2002. The Basics added albuterol, aspirin and glucagon (glucometer) to their skills. To date, Oostburg Ambulance has had 4578 runs. Due to living outside the 2.5 minute response area, an ‘OA First Responder”, EMT-I Beth Trimberger, responds from her home to a scene in her preset area. She has a jumpkit, oxygen and uniform in her vehicle and can treat immediate problems of bleeding, CPR, respiratory difficulties. This is in the trial stage.
October 14, 2005: The trial stage of First Responder seemed to be so successful that in 2005, Jay was added as a First Responder within or close to the Village limits and we are thinking of extending it to other areas as well that are not reached now. Beth became a full time member and has been placed on the schedule. The EMT IV Tech is written under the Basic (BLS) legislation and we are in the process of moving it to the ALS so as not to lose funding prior to our license renewal of June 2006. CPAP has been added as a pilot program and seems to work very well on the patients that need it. We’ve applied for a Fema Grant to purchase a new vehicle. No news yet but we will soon be purchasing a new ambulance to replace the 1987 Braun even if we don’t get the grant. Fema (Homeland Security is under FEMA) required training
on the IS700, which is the introduction to Incident Command. More advanced classes will be coming as more terrorism happens around the world. The State has been divided into Trauma Regions to further train us on Incident Command should an incident happen in our area. The State EMS Office put out an EMSS website to renew members and keep all our insurance, etc., up-to-date at the hit of a key! The Sheboygan County EMS Association was formed including the First Responders to keep all services doing the same thing so that when anyone responds to a scene, they will be able to step in and be familiar with the procedures, triage tags, command positions and, as always, documentation.
Through all the years, one constant has remained – the dedication and commitment of the volunteers and their families. Without them, none of the above could ever have been accomplished. Below is a list of all those who committed a part of their life in service to others with an emergency medical need. The italicized names are the original members who started Oostburg Ambulance. Because of them, lives have been changed: