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New year, new ambulance service: Howard EMS becomes in-house Jan. 1

Fire Chief: Brown County's first new ambulance service in 50 years
Posted at 9:21 PM, Nov 29, 2023
and last updated 2023-11-29 22:21:57-05
  • Video shows the interior of the Howard Fire Department's ambulance and new hires participating in training
  • State funding makes it possible for the village of Howard to operate their own ambulance and EMS instead of contracting out to a non-profit for the service
  • Eight new firefighters and paramedics will be part of the first new ambulance service Brown County has seen in about 50 years

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

It's almost 2024 and the new year is set to bring big changes to a local fire department. When the clock strikes midnight on New Years Eve, the village of Howard’s ambulance service will officially become in-house.

"We all love the idea of being a part of something that's going to be new," Howard firefighter and paramedic Adam Marler said at the fire house Wednesday afternoon. "Being able to build a solid culture, provide great care for our community and the village that we serve."

Marler said he has been a firefighter for about 20 years and he began working for the village of Howard this summer. He is one of the first responders that will help start Howard's new ambulance service in 2024.

It's not just new for the village, but a new concept for Brown County as a whole.

"This is the first new ambulance service, besides maybe a name change or a merger, in about 50 years," Marler said. "So, there's not a lot of experience with just doing this sort of operation in the county."

"We made a commitment to the village that we would run the ambulance through the municipal services here," Howard Fire Chief Dennis Staeven said.

Up until now, ambulance services have been contracted out to County Rescue, which, according to their website, is a non-profit ambulance provider in northeast Wisconsin.

"The decision was made to step away from County Rescue prior to me coming into my role here," Staeven, who took over as Fire Chief in July. "So, I think they were looking at call volume and response. How the call volume is growing, and then the time response that they weren't necessarily getting."

Funding for the ambulance service to operate out of the fire department largely came from the state. Staeven said federal grant money for fire and emergency response staffing (also called a "SAFER" grant) allowed them to hire on eight full-time staffers.

On Dec. 26 they will start sleeping at the fire house instead of being on-call at home during the night. The department's new two days on, three days off schedule is similar to that of some larger departments.

"Projections in the next ten years are possibly doubling the size of the population of the village of Howard," Staeven said.

"We look forward to being involved in the community, meeting the community in the best of times so we can make sure we can give them the best care and [most] compassionate care we can when its their worst of times," Marler said.

To learn more about how these changes might affect your tax bill, check out NBC 26’s Jon Erickson’s story on shared revenue.