Wakefield city council seeks new city-based ambulance


January 24, 2018

P.J. Glisson/Daily Globe

LOCAL CITIZENS listen to Mike Yon, chief of the volunteer fire department in Wakefield, present a status report to the Wakefield City Council Monday.



Wakefield - Before Jan. 1, Wakefield had an ambulance parked in its main street fire hall.

But Mike Yon, chief of the city's volunteer fire department, told the Wakefield City Council Monday the ambulance is no longer there.

Yon said that Beacon Ambulance Service, as of the start of the year, decided that staffing challenges would make it impossible to continue housing one of its vans in Wakefield.

So what happens when a Wakefield citizen calls 911 with a medical emergency?

In a Tuesday phone interview, Yon said that Beacon will still respond with an ambulance - it's just that it will be issued from its Ironwood office, instead of from the Wakefield fire hall.

Yon is optimistic that a new local option will emerge before long. He told the council that Aspirus Ironwood Hospital might be the answer.

Yon said Aspirus Ironwood is exploring the possibility of establishing some level of emergency service in Wakefield; perhaps by basing an ambulance here, as Beacon did for more than five years.

"It's going to benefit the community, so go ahead and get us some information," said Mayor John Granato to Yon.

Granato then appointed two council members, Kay Wiita and James Anderson, to form a committee with Yon, to work with Aspirus Ironwood toward possible negotiations.

In other fire hall news, Yon told the council that he's hoping to add on to the 31-year-old fire hall. "We do need another stall or stall and a half," he said, citing storage needs for a recently purchased brush fire truck (also known as a forest fire truck) and other miscellaneous equipment.

The chief added that he and his 20 department members, who range in age from 20 to 78, also must stay mindful of the expense in maintaining the fire engines and in monitoring the integrity of safety wear.

In terms of any given financial need, Yon said that he is a taxpayer himself, and realizes that some expenses are just beyond the budget of a small town.

But he said that he will continue to pursue grants and that cash raised from fundraisers such as the department's annual fall meat sale, as well as its ice fishing contest, also help to fund purchases such as last year's new Jaws of Life cutter worth over $5,000.

Council member Pat Mann urged Yon to present his needs in more detail during the city's next budget process. "I don't want to see our buildings look like our old city hall," she said.

The council will meet next on Feb. 12 at 5:30 p.m.

The planning commission also will meet on Feb. 12 at 4:30 p.m.

The Wakefield volunteer fire department will have its annual fishing contest at Sunday Lake on Feb. 17 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.


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