Although the population within the Sauk Prairie Ambulance Association district increased by 141 people, its municipal assessment will stay the same. That means it costs each person in the 10 municipalities the association serves $8.21 to operate it.
The association proposed a $695,905 budget for 2019, a $51,784 increase from 2018, or 7.4 percent. Ambulance Commission member Jennifer Evert said the increase is due to the skyrocketing number of calls it has received in 2018. “We’ve already broken our record for the annual number of calls,” Evert said, “and we still have a month left.”
Sauk Prairie Ambulance Director Kevin Weber said the larger call volume stems from an aging population. Because of that, the majority of calls Sauk Prairie Ambulance receives after requests for transport are for age-related falls. Motor vehicle accidents also account for a large percentage of calls.
Weber said their suppliers have also increased rates. “Just based on the opioid crisis, a dose of Narcan costs us $40,” Weber said. “Four years ago it cost us $16. It’s all based on supply and demand.”
Even the cost of oxygen has increased slightly, but the largest increase is with the extra fees associated with buying oxygen such as a delivery fee, an environmental surcharge and a fuel surcharge among them.
The association’s budget is based on a per population rate, meaning communities such as Prairie du Sac and Sauk City make up the largest percentage source for funding.
Sauk Prairie Ambulance will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2019, with several events planned in May. Evert said they are also due to purchase their next ambulance at the end of 2019, with a spring, 2020 delivery. It will replace the oldest ambulance currently in service, which was purchased by the department in 2005.
Weber said they are also working on a grant to supplement fundraising efforts for three LUCAS devices, one for each ambulance. A LUCAS device does automatic compressions, which provides compressions at the same rate and depth more consistently. Each LUCAS device costs $14,000. So far they’ve raised $9,500 out of the $32,000 needed.
Weber said a lot of the reason Sauk Prairie Ambulance’s cost per person is so low is because of the volunteer hours it receives. “In 2017 volunteers logged 24,602 hours,” Weber said. “The federal government equates each hour of service at $24.15.”
“That’s pushing $600,000 we would have to come up with through assessments otherwise,” Evert said.