New Building Would Mean Quicker Ely Ambulance Response |

New Building Would Mean Quicker Ely Ambulance Response

Baihly Warfield
Updated: November 11, 2019 10:34 PM

When you call for an ambulance in Ely and the surrounding area, there may be a few extra steps before the EMTs can get to you. 

There isn't anywhere for them to rest in the Ely Area Ambulance Service garage, so they rent a house around six blocks away. Then they have to drive their own cars over.

"Being six blocks away from the ambulance garage, in the wintertime, you're scraping off ice, you're hoping your car starts if it's like 30 below," EMT Melissa Schroeter said. "That few minutes of lag time can make a difference."

Their jobs are already stressful. And Ely Area Ambulance Executive Director Geoff Galaski has a laundry list of other building issues that make their jobs more challenging. 

Their newest ambulance has a longer wheel base and just barely fits fully in the garage. 

"We have just enough room to open up the back doors. We can't pull out the stretcher to clean or do anything," Galaski said. 

His office, which at one time was the morgue, floods yearly. They have a hard time keeping the building warm with old insulation, and mice and squirrels have chewed holes. 

"Employees wash their hands after every call at the hospital, but if we're doing maintenance work on the rigs or cleaning, we have no running water or any way to wash our hands," Galaski said. 

No running water also means no bathroom. If those challenges weren't convincing enough, the Ely Bloomenson Community Hospital is expanding. Within the next two years, the ambulance garage will likely become part of the hospital's parking lot. 

The City of Ely donated some land on Pattison St. W, and Galaski had plans drawn up for a building that includes four garage stalls, offices, training space, and living space. 

He estimates it will cost $1.4 million. 

In 2019, the Ely Area Ambulance Service's operating budget was about $770,000. They are a nonprofit, and most of the revenue comes from people and insurance companies paying their ambulance bills. The cities they serve contribute a small amount, about 3% of the yearly budget. 

So Galaski is looking for grants and hoping to raise as much of the $1.4 million as possible. He said the infrastructure is in place and the land ready for construction. Now, he's trying to get the word out to start preparing for the future.

"We're so appreciative of everybody that's donated so far," Schroeter said. "They have no idea how much it means to us."

If you want to donate, Galaski has a fundraiser set up on Facebook or through PayPal


Baihly Warfield

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