LAKE CITY — With a little help from Wabasha County and CARES Act funding, Lake City will get a new ambulance for its fleet.

At the Nov. 9 City Council meeting, the Lake City council approved acceptance of $175,000 in CARES Act funding from the county that will cover most of the cost.

"Given our ambulance service size — and we're doing a lot of transport for regional medical — we are transferring a lot of COVID-positive patients," City Administrator Rob Keehn said.

Lake City has eight full-time EMTs and several volunteers who supplement the schedule, Keehn said, calling it "one of the more robust ambulance services" in the region.

The service also uses three ambulances, but one is nearing the end of its useful lifespan for Lake City, and there were plans to eventually replace it.

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Enter Wabasha County, which offered funds to Lake City, Wabasha and Elgin to purchase ambulances for each city's EMS service.

"This will cover the lion’s share of the cost of the new rig," Keehn said, adding that the total cost for the new ambulance is about $196,000. The rest will be covered with capital funds from the city.

Council member Cindy McGrath said the ambulance staff worked diligently to find a new ambulance, which was a need for the department.

"Some days, all three ambulances are out," she said.

Cindy McGrath
Cindy McGrath

Keehn said the older ambulance, which will get sold once the new one is in the fleet, had been reduced to a reserve role, but with so many patient transfers, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, that older ambulance was seeing a lot of action.

Council member Russell Boe added that the new ambulance will make it safer for the ambulance crew with separate heating and air conditioning systems for the cabin and the box, the rear section where the patient is housed.

In other business, the City Council decided to wait until the new City Council is installed in January to determine whether it will continue with online meetings held via the virtual meeting service Zoom.

"We are looking at (COVID-19) numbers increasing not just in Wabasha County, but across the state, as well," said Keehn, adding that perhaps the city should wait before returning to in-person meetings.

While several council members expressed an interest in returning to in-person meetings, as a body, they reached the consensus to wait for now and let the new council make that decision.