Hayfield EMS in need of more funding

(ABC 6 News) – A lack of funding is pretty common for small town EMS in Minnesota and Hayfield is no different.

The Hayfield Ambulance has no more money in its reserve funds which means they just barely have enough money to keep the lights on.

“When we dial 911, we don’t think about someone not picking up or someone not coming to our rescue,” said Republican Rep. Patricia Mueller of Austin.

Right now, Hayfield only has 16 staff members compared to a few years ago when they had over 20. With little money they can’t hire more EMT’s or replace broken equipment.

John Bacigalupo says this isn’t sustainable. At the recent town hall meeting they asked for $150,000 in additional funding before the situation gets worse.

“Obviously, there are consequences when you don’t have an ambulance close to you. Time is muscle, time is life for people in a rural area,” said Bacigalupo.

The Hayfield EMS serves not just Hayfield, but other surrounding communities in southern Dodge County and northern Mower County. However, being understaffed and underfunded is taking toll of those who save lives.

“What makes our situation more dire is our individual circumstances. Without adequate funding, we can’t staff and without staff we can’t respond to calls,” said Bacigalupo.

Without more money, Hayfield could lose its ambulance service resulting in longer response time from crews in Dodge Center, Rochester and Austin.

Mueller says they need to do something at the state level to help small town emergency services.

“If where our morals and values lie is in a budget, then I think we are drastically underfunding a core function of government,” Mueller said.

Bacigalupo says also finding staff has been tough in recent years.

“The trick is to find someone to come on board to give some time every month to work for really pennies on the dollar,” said Bacigalupo.

Bacigalupo says what the city can afford to pay their staff is about $5 less an hour than the average.