The Medina Ambulance Service still faces challenges but has enough volunteers to meet its current needs, according to Renae Olson, one of the paramedics for the service.

"Still struggling but hoping to hold on," she said. "We're looking for people who are around during the daytime hours."

In September, Medina Ambulance Service announced it was considering disbanding because of a lack of volunteers.

Olson said finding volunteers available in Medina during daytime hours during the week is difficult because most of the current volunteers work out of town.

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"A comfortable staffing level would be four EMTs available during the daytime," Olson said. "Now we have two, with one man between jobs."

The Medina Ambulance Service was dispatched 61 times during 2019, according to Jerry Bergquist, Stutsman County emergency manager and 911 coordinator. Of those calls, 40 occurred during weekdays and 35 occurred between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. The department responds to general health emergencies and accidents in a 700-square-mile area of western Stutsman County and eastern Kidder County.

The department has been able to find some new volunteers, Olson said.

"We have three taking the EMR (Emergency Medical Responder) course which is right below the EMT," she said. "Two have passed the EMT course so far."

The ambulance service pays for all classes and pays volunteers when on call or dispatched on a call.

"It's not what you would consider full-time pay," Olson said. "Not even close, actually."

Olson called the current staffing level a "short-term solution."

Brian Rau, a member of the department for 33 years, said the short-term solution is an improvement.

"Currently, and we don't know for how long, we have a couple of people able to cover in the days," he said.

Rau said he would like the area to consider an ambulance district, similar to a rural fire district, that would have the authority to collect a property tax for the operation of the ambulance service.

"Ultimately, we have to position ourselves to hire people to work in the day," he said.

Stutsman County does provide a subsidy to ambulance services, according to Nicole Meland, county auditor and chief operating officer. The 2020 budget includes payments of $16,320 to Jamestown Ambulance Service, $9,690 to the Medina Ambulance Service and $1,365 to the Gackle Ambulance Service.

Ambulance services also collect fees for services from insurance companies and people they have assisted.

Forming an ambulance district would require a vote of residents of the area.

In the meantime, the service continues to look for volunteers to cover the day shift and to replace its older generation of volunteers, Rau said.

"We have a few members that have been with the department for quite a while," he said. "I've been with the ambulance service 33 years and there are a couple of others that are about the same. One even has more time in."