Wabasha Ambulance Service 2021

Sadie Wallerich, Tim Wallerich, Dawn Kontzelmann , Anna Arens, Stacy Arens, Tiffany Risch , Tina Cook, Alyssa Cook, Lynn Johnson, Steven Eiler, Corey Lewandowski , Jeff Wallerich, Dan Arens , Evan Howard , Cindy Sheeley, Bryton Miller

Having a small-town ambulance service is often taken for granted but a critical service for any community. That’s why, this week the City of Wabasha is also celebrating National EMS Week and taking time to recognize and thank its 25 EMS providers, both full-time and volunteer, who dedicate their time to providing life-saving service in the community.

This week, Tim Wallerich, also announced his retirement from the service after 22 years. Back in 2001, he was finishing up nursing school and his mother and brother were both EMTs, so he says that he just “kind of fell into it.” But what kept him serving all these years was knowing he was giving back to the community.

“I found the job extremely rewarding- I help people in the greatest time of need, whether it’s picking people up off the ground when they’ve taken a fall or responding to a car accident. I enjoy giving back to the community using skills that not everyone has,” said Wallerich.

EMTs complete hundreds of hours of training

Tim Wallerich, Sadie Wallerich, Anna Arens

The Wabasha Ambulance Service provides EMS services to not only Wabasha but Gundersen St. Elizabeth’s Hospital and Clinics, the towns of Reads Landing, Kellogg, and part of Minneiska along with the townships of Greenfield, Glasgow, Highland, Pepin, Minneiska, and Watopa. it takes commitment from 21 active volunteers (paid on-call staff) and 4 paid full-time EMTs. Together, this small group of individuals, average 550 calls per year, complete hundreds of hours training, and cover over 17,500 hours of call time.

Cindy Sheeley and Bryton Miller

There are other critical components to a successful operation- teamwork and commitment.

“Our crew works very well together and I am very proud of that. We have very dedicated, selfless, and experienced group working here,” said Ryan Marking, Ambulance Director.

“EMS is a very demanding job, our crew takes a lot of time away from their family for calls and trainings. It also can take a toll on a person’s mental health.”

Across the country, rural EMS is in crisis, with news of EMS services shutting down as rural populations do not have the population density to make a fully paid 24-7 staffing model financially feasible. So services rely on volunteers. But the nature of work has changed; employers are less willing to allow their employees time away from work to respond to service calls. There are also more regulations and training requirements to operate a service and an aging demographic population means less volunteers are available to serve.

In Wabasha, the City of Wabasha relies on both support from city property tax revenues to pay for the Ambulance Service and the personal sacrifices of its paid-on call volunteers and staff.

In honor of National EMS week, please thank your neighbor who has answered the call to serve as a first responder or EMT. Please consider answering the call yourself to becoming a volunteer with your local EMS service.

Ryan Olsen

Ryan Marking, Ambulance Director

Dan and Stacy Arens, EMTs

Tina Cook, Corey Lewandowski, Kase Scherbring