Jackson Council approved Fire/Ambulance split

Wed 12-5-2018

Also at Tuesday nights City Council Meeting, Jackson EMS Manager Mike Muchlinski addressed the council regarding a proposed split of the Fire and Ambulance Departments..  Technically, the Fire Department and Ambulance Service have always been two separate entities.  However, they have had their monthly meetings and training together.  The ambulance service is licensed by the State of Minnesota as the Jackson Volunteer Ambulance.  There is a Medical Director who approves the protocols and they operate under the Medical Director’s license.  The ambulance service has its own Tax ID number separate from the Fire Department.  The budgets of the Ambulance and Fire Department operate independently of each other financially.  The Fire Department receives an annual City budget where the Ambulance service is self-supporting by receiving insurance and patient payments. 

Muchlinski explained years ago it was a requirement to be a member of both departments, which is why the two entities considered themselves one department.  However, as it became more difficult to recruit volunteers, approval from the Council was granted to hire EMT’s separate for the Fire Department and the Fire Department hired members who were not required to be on the ambulance.  When this change occurred, they did not foresee the challenges coming regarding training with various licensures who are either on one department or both.  EMT’s are now required to perform skills and administer medications that years ago they did not do and has caused training requirements to increase dramatically.  Because of the changes in training requirements, the Ambulance and Fire Departments have been holding separate meetings and trainings since August which has been a benefit for both departments.  The vote among the Fire Department and Ambulance Department members to officially separate was approved by a vote of 41 to 2.

Of the approximately 199 ambulance services in the State of Minnesota, only 18 are combined fire and ambulance. 

The Council approved the split, and the by-laws for both the Ambulance Department and Fire Department.  Councilman Dave Cushman will serve as the City Council’s liaison for both Departments.