New Glarus Area EMS launches fundraiser for department upgrades

The $1.5 million goal is broken up into three phases
Published: May. 19, 2021 at 12:02 PM CDT|Updated: May. 19, 2021 at 5:39 PM CDT
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NEW GLARUS, Wis. (WMTV) - In a town known for Spotted Cow, first responders are hoping you might be willing to spot them some cash for a few overdue upgrades.

During National EMS Week, which runs May 16th-22nd, New Glarus Area EMS officials are kicking off a $1.5 million fundraising campaign to help them buy new equipment and ambulances and expand their living quarters.

“This is us raising our hand during National EMS Week to go, we’re here for you, we’re around-the-clock. You know we’re your 911 safety blanket. Now the time has come where we need everybody to be a little bit there for us,” said Josh Wescott, an Advanced Emergency Medical Technician with New Glarus Area EMS.

New Glarus Area EMS is a non-profit ambulance service covering parts of northern Green County and southern Dane County. The squad of 18 volunteers, one full-time employee and one part-time employee rely solely on grants and donations to provide services to the Village of New Glarus and surrounding townships.

Wescott says the expenses of their day-to-day operations take up most of that money.

“We’re recognizing that there are bigger costs, longer term costs that we face in terms of equipment, ambulances, and eventually we want to get to a point where we can add onto our station here,” explained Wescott.

Typically, they respond to around 400 calls a year, but Wescott said they have already seen a 7-8% increase in calls year-to-date. The number of tourists visiting the area can quadruple the population during busy seasons. Plus, more people are moving to the area.

“We know as the growth happens and the call volumes increase, that’s only going to put more demands on our equipment and more demands on our members and that’s why we’re trying to raise some funds to improve both of those,” said Wescott.

The $1.5 million goal is being broken up into three phases. Phase one will cost around $150,000. Wescott said this, “is really focused on EMS response equipment and patient care. It’s defibrillators, it’s turnout gear, it’s stuff to improve our quality of patient care.”

The goal for the next phase is $400,000 to replace their two aging ambulances.

“We’ve been very good and efficient over the years in terms of acquiring gently used ambulances and now we’re recognizing that our long-term growth and ability to keep going to more calls really depends on our ability to secure funding to have two new ambulances,” told Wescott.

The final phase is for a building renovation and expansion. They would like to add onto to their living and sleeping quarters, since they currently have just three beds for those on shift.

Wescott said right now, “you’ll come out some mornings and you’ll have people on couches or cots on the floor just finding what they can. We want to do a little bit better, because that’s part of getting more people to volunteer and engage here is giving them a place if they come here, they can at least have a place to put their head down while they’re waiting to go help folks.”

They’ve already started making phone calls and knocking on doors to build connections and put the word out. Wescott is hopeful that the community they keep safe will have their back during this campaign.

“That’s what small towns do. That’s what communities do. They come together and they rally for each other and take care of each other and we’re really confident that’s going to happen here,” said Wescott.

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