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Wayne County forced to expand countywide ambulance service as volunteer forces, population decline

  • / Updated:
  • Staff Report 

Wayne County is addressing challenges within its ambulance services due to rising operational costs and a decline in volunteers, particularly in rural communities with less population density and fewer calls.

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Historically, rural areas like Wayne County relied on volunteers and unique solutions like funeral home hearses for medical transportation.

Now, out of 22 original community fire and independent ambulance services, only eight remain, with the future of these being uncertain due to escalating costs, staffing issues, and state-mandated training requirements that outpace Medicaid, Medicare, and insurance reimbursements.

In response, the county initiated the ALS ‘Fly Car’ system and established strategic locations in Lincoln, Williamson, North Rose, and Lyons to offer life-saving protocols efficiently.

A two-phase plan is underway to construct new ambulance facilities and integrate the ‘Fly Car’ program to these locations.


The plan, providing professional ambulance personnel with enhanced wages and benefits, is anticipated to cost taxpayers significantly, with 2023 county contributions at $3.4 million and 2024 operating costs estimated at $4.8 million, alongside a $15 million capital outlay and $1.5 million for six new ambulances.

County officials emphasize the necessity of these measures to ensure optimal medical services and response times for Wayne County residents.