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Carpio shuts down its community ambulance...

Ward County Emergency Management convened a meeting last Wednesday to set new territorial boundaries after the Carpio Ambulance Service voted to cease operations.

4/20/21 (Tue)

Ward County Emergency Management convened a meeting last Wednesday to set new territorial boundaries after the Carpio Ambulance Service voted to cease operations.

Ward County 911 coordinator Larry Haug said Carpio has had some staffing issues for some time and it wasn’t fair to the crew or the community.

“They just didn’t have the crew to keep up,” Haug said. “The board voted Thursday and it became effective Monday (April 12).”

According to Haug, the only way the boundaries could be re-established was for Carpio to make this decision on record.

“The state needed this to be officially written to cease,” Haug said. “So in that regard, we could dispatch other ambulances.”

Haug said Carpio ambulance members Kalvin Myers and Wes Peterson contacted him regarding the local vote.

As a result, Haug called the meeting in Minot to alert surrounding ambulance squads to include Kenmare, Berthold, Mohall and Minot. Representatives from Tolley also attended.

“It all boils down to manpower,” Haug said. “This is a very common problem all across the country; to get volunteers who are truly committed.”

He added it’s becoming extremely difficult to get replacement people. Simply put, young people are harder to recruit, especially when they consider the commitment.

Myers, who is also the Carpio mayor and fire chief, said this was inevitable and there was really nothing else that could have been done.

According to Myers, Carpio had just one emergency medical technician and the state regulation calls for two or more. He said that isn’t fair to the one EMT who is essentially on call all the time.

“We couldn’t keep going and not find anybody,” Myers said. “It’s harder and harder for volunteers to do this.”

Myers added, however, the fire department is looking at forming an emergency medical response (EMR) team for the fire department so it could at least have medical bags when it goes out on calls.

Myers cautioned that nothing has been decided. An EMR team is  very preliminary at this time.

According to Haug, an EMR can respond to a situation and render first aid, but it can’t transport a patient.

That means if the fire department runs across an accident, they can provide first aid and stabilize the patient until the nearest ambulance arrives to transport the individual to the nearest hospital.

“This is the third one since 2015,” Haug said. “In ‘15, Ryder-Makoti closed up but came back as a substation of Max-Garrison. In ‘19, Glenburn did it for the same reason and closed their doors.”

What this does is causes the same services to be spread out, thus spreading the region of response, according to Haug.

Carpio’s boundary was a 352-square-mile polygon that had to be absorbed because the area can’t be left without coverage.

Members of the Kenmare Ambulance Service, Mohall Ambulance Service, United Ambulance Service of Berthold and Community Ambulance of Minot, all divvied up the boundaries.

Carpio’s closure resulted in Berthold’s area being increased by 150 square miles.

Clayton Fegley of United Ambulance Service in Berthold, told The Kenmare News Carpio was getting 25 to 30 calls annually and Berthold will pick up about 20 of them.

“The big thing will be the amount of time it will take to respond to a call,” Fegley said. “That will change.”

Community Ambulance in Minot added 75 square miles, Kenmare 74 square miles and Mohall 58 square miles.

“All the above listed services willingly agreed to their newly assigned areas and will continue to do their best to ensure the area has adequate EMS coverage,” Haug said. “There was no push back. The saving grace is Carpio’s district was not a high volume area.”

In addition, Haug explained a computer program at the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services that split the boundaries based on optimum response time.

“It takes all the data and figures a response area and time,” he said. “The Department of Health will make the final decision.”

The change in boundaries doesn’t have any bearing on the Minot Air Force Base. Haug said its fire department will leave the base to respond to a fire emergency, but the ambulance is committed to the base proper.

Haug added he had a map of the proposed area at the Wednesday night meeting and nobody questioned their new duties.

Furthermore, any 911 call is automated and will tell which ambulance to respond at a precise location.

“I just think the world of these folks,” Haug said. “I can tell you, this isn’t what Kal, Wes and Alvis (Martinson) wanted.”

He added, “Fire departments rely on volunteers and I think the general public doesn’t realize that commitment to certification, classes, meetings, etc., just to be a part of a volunteer service and a lot of times, they pay out of their own pocket.”

Despite the bombshell of Carpio losing its ambulance, Haug suggested this isn’t a doomsday scen- ario and he provided three reasons why.

“No. 1, the people who are responding are held to a high standard,” he said. “No. 2, as far as distance, we’ve done everything we can to minimize the time – not necessarily the distance, but the time. And No. 3, a lot of communities are going through this and we are doing everything we can to mitigate this.”

One thing local residents can do to help make fire and ambulance more efficient is to put their house number on their house.

He said large numbers in contrasting colors really help, no matter if it’s a fire department, ambulance or law enforcement.

Often times first responders get called in the middle of the night, in a blizzard or heavy fog and to try to find a house number can be next to impossible, the former Minot police officer described.

And the old adage of “everybody knows where I live” no longer applies, according to Haug. He said personnel shift around and a volunteer in Carpio, may not be from there originally and might not know where everyone lives.

Thus a house number in large numbers and letters would help... Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print! For details, log on to ( email us at ( or phone in a request at 701-385-4275.