Evansville’s Ambulance Services
By Ruth Ann Montgomery
For many years the only ambulance service in Evansville was offered by the funeral homes. The Roderick Funeral Home had
an ambulance that was used for emergencies. They only responded after being called by a doctor who was on the scene. The
doctor would usually follow the ambulance to the hospitals in Janesville, Madison, or later, the Stoughton Hospital. Whoever was
available would take the ambulance out, Harry Roderick, Sr. or Jr. and another employee with the surname Carlson. There was
no emergency equipment in the ambulance, it was simply used for transportation.
In 1951 the Roderick Funeral Home was sold to Al Ward and he continued the ambulance service for the next ten years.
The police department was given responsibility for the ambulance when Ward notified the City Council that he would no longer
be operating an ambulance service. Ward pledged his full cooperation in the use of his equipment and any assistance he could
offer during the transition period.
When the Council received the news at their November 1961 meeting, they realized they must act quickly so that Evansville
would not have a gap in the ambulance service in case of an emergency. The matter was referred to Councilmen who served
on the Police and Fire Commission. The aldermen began immediate plans to organize a city-owned ambulance service but were
unsure about whether the fire department or the police should be in charge of the ambulance.
The decision became clear when Fire Chief Chester Jorgensen declined the offer to have the Evansville Fire Department
operate the ambulance service. Police Chief Luers was then told, "Richard its up to you to start an ambulance service".
Within three weeks after Luers was given the assignment, he had a full crew of men who offered their services as an ambulance
crew. Although the fire department had declined to take on the responsibility for the service, there were many local firemen who
were volunteers for the new ambulance operation.
The volunteers who first came forward to operate the ambulance service were Gordon Hartin, Ed Erpenbach, John Whitmore,
Don Graham, William Wood, Bob Kelly, Richard Meyers, Kenneth Amann, Robert Erstad, Al Ward, Bill Morrison, Gordon Kazda,
Don Hart and R. W. Schuster.
In its deliberation over the creation of the new ambulance service, the City Council had hoped to involve all of the townships that
participated in the local cost of operating the Evansville Fire Department, including Union, Center, Porter and Magnolia. This
would give the City financial support and provide ambulance service for rural residents. However, when the City and the
township supervisors met for their annual meeting in November 1961, only Union Township joined with Evansville in supporting
the cost of the ambulance.
The Ward-Roderick Funeral Home sold the ambulance to the City for $1,750. The Union Township supervisors agreed to pay
20% of the equipment and service costs. Eventually the other three townships agreed to support the service and benefited by
The ambulance service was officially turned over to the Evansville Police Department on January 1, 1962. The ambulance was
renamed Squad 2. The Dodge station wagon was equipped with a stretcher, radio and oxygen. The ambulance was kept in Art
Sand's gas station across from the City Hall. The City Council established charges for the ambulance at $15 per call in the City
and Union Townships and $25 a call in the non-participating areas.
Chief Luers required that all of the police officers and ambulance drivers have first aid training. Dr. Samuel Sorkin, a local
physician who had worked with the Red Cross, taught the first aid courses to the men.
The police department in 1965 included Chief Luers, Sergeant Myron Beyer, and patrolmen, Charles "Chuck" Babler and John
Whitmore. The four men shared one patrol car and the department had one ambulance.
Luers received a salary of $536 a month. The sergeant received $491 a month and patrolmen $445 to 448 a month. Generally,
the City Council granted the men a pay increase each year.
Since 1898, the police department had depended on the local operators to give them messages about emergencies. The old
communication system, with the telephone operators acting as dispatchers for the police department was changed in 1965.
When the dial telephone system came to Evansville the telephone company dismissed all of their operators.
Chief Luers began planning for the change several months before the dial system was installed. He determined that the City
would have to hire its own personnel to take telephone calls and dispatch information over the police radio at City Hall.
During normal working hours for the City Clerk's office, from 8 am to 5 p.m. on weekdays, the staff handled the police
dispatching duties. The police dispatchers worked the evening, weekend and holiday hours not covered by the City Clerk's
staff. The dispatchers would take police, ambulance, fire calls, and act as clerks for the police department in answering routine
calls. The fire department provided a dispatcher and had a separate radio system to use during a fire.
The City Council asked the townships who participated in the Evansville Fire Department costs to help pay for the dispatchers.
The townships agreed that they would benefit from the fire and ambulance dispatching and Evansville's 1966 contracts with the
townships, included additional costs for the equipment and personnel needed for the new communication system.
The City also agreed to purchase a generator for stand-by-power so that the emergency radio equipment would function during
a power outage at City Hall. The generator was a mobile unit that was kept at the City garage on Exchange Street. When this
arrangement proved to be impractical, the generator was permanently installed garage beneath the City Hall.
The switch to the dial telephone system occurred shortly after 6 a.m. on
Sunday morning December 19, 1965. Chief Luers had dispatchers in place to assist with the radio calls. Ed Culver, George
Golz, Russell Cook, and Ed Hallmark were some of the dispatchers who worked full or part time for the department in the first
years the system was in operation.
The City Council added $7,835 to the 1966 budget for the police department. The amount included raises for the current
members of the department as well as the new emergency communication system dispatchers. The dispatchers were paid $1.65
to $2.20 per hour.
Using police officers and volunteers, the police department continued to operate the only ambulance service in Evansville.
Those who manned the ambulance were paid $4 for each call and the City tried to recover costs of maintaining the ambulance
service by billing those who used the ambulance. However, some refused to pay. At the August 1965 meeting of the Council
the aldermen agreed to write off the unpaid charges as bad debts.
Space to accommodate all of the city-owned emergency vehicles was one of the key issues facing the City Council. Throughout
1965, Mayor Wilson Brown persisted in asking the Council to consider building a new City Hall that would include room for the
fire trucks, ambulance and police department. He noted that there was no room for indoor parking of the police car or
ambulance. The fire department's trucks were squeezed into the old garage beneath the 1892 City Hall building.
As the fire department continued to grow, the City Hall garage could not accommodate the men and vehicles of the department.
The ambulance was housed in a local gas station and the police cars were parked on the street when they were not in use.
Brown's idea did not meet with much support and he received protests from several Council members and citizens about the cost
of building a new city hall. Brown then concentrated his efforts on a long-term plan for meeting the space needs of the City's
offices. The mayor said the new municipal building could be built in two stages, starting with the fire and police station with an
adjoining city hall to be added later.
"I think we need a fire and police station desperately and I think we need it now," Mayor Brown told the City Council at their
January 1966 meeting. However, at the spring election in 1966, Brown was defeated and Mayor Ida Conroy took charge of the
City business. Conroy continued to push for a building that would house the fire station with room for the City Ambulance. The
following year, the new fire station was built on land just west of the City Hall. The ambulance was moved into the former fire
station in the garage in the City Hall.
Though the Council could not agree on the housing for the vehicles, they were responsive to the needs of the police department
for new vehicles. In early 1966, a new ambulance was purchased and the old ambulance was given to the Public Works
department. A new police car was added in the summer of 1966. The new vehicle was purchased from Thompson Motors for
In 1969, the police department faced a shortage of volunteers to operate the ambulance service. It became difficult to find
volunteer ambulance drivers and the responsibility for responding to emergencies had fallen on the police officers. Some were
concerned that the calls took the on-duty police officers outside the city on ambulance runs to hospitals in nearby cities.
For the first time since the service had been given to the police department, the City said they intended to explore other
options. The solution the Council settled on was to increase the pay for the volunteers who made each ambulance run. This
temporarily ended the shortage of personnel.
With these few exceptions, the City of Evansville remained a peaceful place, thanks in part to the law-abiding citizens and the
local police department. By 1972, the police force included six men, Chief Richard Luers, John Whitmore, Charles Babler, bob
Hallmark, Donald Strampe and Bob Albright. They were pictured in the Evansville Review with the headline "The Evansville
Police Department who make Evansville a better place to live, work, and play."
The Evansville Police Department changed in several ways in the 1970s. There were new communication systems, new
vehicles, and new personnel.
A new radio system was installed in 1971 that expanded the areas of communication for the Evansville Police Department and
the Rock County Sheriff 's department. Early in the year, the City Council voted to pay $500 for the radio equipment, including
the 100 foot tower.
There was some controversy about the location of the new radio tower. The installers recommended the tower be placed on a
10-foot strip of land north of the fire station. This would allow for a 9-cubic-foot cement base and a self-standing tower with no
guide wires. Three legs placed 5 feet apart and set in a triangle pattern supported the tower. However, the location violated the
city ordinance calling for a variance of 3 to 10 feet next to an adjacent lot line. Several representatives from the Methodist
congregation also opposed the location of the tower so close to their church property.
After hearing the objections, the Council passed the question to the board of appeals for resolution. The board of appeals
voted not to place the tower in back of the fire station. The City Council then agreed that the tower should be built between the
City Hall and the fire station. After the controversy was put to rest, the new radio system was installed and operational by August
and the old system was put up for sale.
Small items purchased for the police department sometimes caused heated discussion in City Council meetings. In March 1971,
one councilman objected to the purchase of five cameras that were used by officers to photograph accidents, vandalism, and
crime scenes. Mayor Ida Conroy ended the argument between councilmen about whether the purchase was justified. She
suggested the matter be referred to the finance committee and resolved in the payment of the bill for the cameras.
The Council was more generous with the larger budget items. They granted the funds for the police department to purchase a
second squad car in 1972. Several considerations were given for purchasing the new vehicle as it served a dual purpose, as a
squad and an ambulance.
In justifying the new squad, Chief Richard Luers told the Council that Evansville's ambulance had made more than 150 trips in
1971. Some of the increase was the result of the opening of the Evansville Continental Manor nursing home and non-
emergency runs made by the ambulance to transport local citizens to hospitals.
Luers noted that there had been several times when more than one ambulance was needed. With the new squad, two police
cars were on duty every day from 12 noon to 4 a.m.
The Rambler Ambassador station wagon was purchased from Helgesen's Inc. for $3,011 and was equipped with a cot, oxygen
regulator, and resuscitator. The substitute ambulance could carry two people, plus the emergency personnel.
The ambulance responded within 3 to 5 minutes of receiving the call, according to Chief Luers. There were nine volunteer
ambulance drivers featured in a picture of the Evansville Review in March 1972. The caption read, "They are on call whenever
you need them, day or night".
Most of the nine men were police officers, including Sergeant John Whitmore, Chief Richard Luers, Bob Hallmark, Charles
Babler, Bob Albright, and Donald Strampe. The other volunteers were a former police officer, Norman Schnable, Francis Erbs
and Tim Shea.
A new ambulance was also purchased in 1973 from Conners Chevrolet Oldsmobile. The Chevrolet Suburban cost $12,800.
The Automotive Conversion Corporation of Troy, Michigan had modified the Suburban into an ambulance and it had been used
as a demonstrator model. A General Motors employee from Evansville was instrumental in getting this ambulance for the City.
The white and orange vehicle was equipped with six red flashing lights, and emergency equipment. Some of the equipment
purchased for the ambulance was an oxygen system, bag mask resuscitator, automatic pulse checker, aspirator,
sphygmomanometer for checking blood pressure and first aid kits. There were two spine boards, metal and inflatable splints,
cervical collars, several stretchers, blankets and fire extinguishers.
There was also an electronic siren and a microphone for an outside speaker. A new radio unit was placed in the ambulance at a
cost of $1,160. The ambulance was said to be one of the best equipped in the state and contained all the latest in modern
medical equipment. There were also two old ambulances kept in reserve.
The new ambulance could comfortably carry 4 people, but could accommodate 8 people, if necessary. Union Township paid
twenty percent of the cost and other townships were expected to help with the purchase of the vehicle. The City Council
increased the rates for the ambulance to $25 for one driver and $35 if two ambulance volunteers responded. A charge of $50
was levied for all accidents and calls outside of Evansville and Union Township. In an effort to show the use of the ambulance
service, the police department began issuing the names of the people transported to the local media.
The shortage of ambulance drivers was on ongoing problem for Chief Luers. He reported a shortage of ambulance drivers
again in 1974 as the number of calls for the ambulance increased.
The greatest shortage was noted during the day time hours. By May 30, 1974, 133 ambulance runs had been made. Several
local organizations, including the fire department and the Jaycees were contacted to see if there were any members of the
organizations willing to volunteer for ambulance service.
Luers also recommended a better communication system so that more of the volunteers could be contacted quickly. The City
Council approved a pager system at a cost of $3,873. With the new pagers, all available ambulance drivers could be reached,
even if they were away from a phone.
When they were asked to wear pagers and respond to calls on their off-duty hours, some of the policemen asked for standby
pay. The cost of officers on standby would dramatically increase the police budget and Chief Luers did not feel that his budget
could handle the added costs.
He advised the City Council to explore other options, including establishing a separate Emergency Medical Service, with its own
budget and chain of command. Another option was to eliminate non-emergency transport of patients in the ambulance.
Local citizens and the Evansville City Council discussed the plan for several months before action was taken to eliminate non-
emergency transport by the ambulance. During the meetings that were held, Dr. Roger Gray praised the drivers and attendants
for the service, explaining that Evansville was fortunate to have so many qualified people to respond for the ambulance service
when it was needed.
As if to illustrate the need for the ambulance, the morning after one of the citizen meetings, there were three simultaneous calls
for an ambulance. Both ambulances and the old retired ambulance were put in service to transport the patients to area
At their December 1975 meeting, the Council voted to continue with the non-emergency service only within the city limits. The
ambulance service was directed that emergency situations had priority. Eventually, the non-emergency service was dropped
In 1975, the state began requiring that all ambulance personnel receive training and be licensed. This requirement meant that
all of those who served on the volunteer service had to attend classes and receive certification that they were qualified to give
emergency care. Luers arranged for training courses for ambulance drivers to be offered in Evansville to encourage all
available volunteers to attend.
This training was especially important to Evansville ambulance personnel, because there was only one physician, Dr. Roger
Gray, working in Evansville at the time. Dr. Gray routinely responded to accidents or other emergencies whenever he could, but
often the ambulance went out without a nurse or physician in attendance.
All emergency personnel, including the Evansville Police Department, worked long hours when they were called out to assist
citizens during an ice storm in March 1976. Many homes were without electricity and a plan for emergency shelters was put into
place. Members of the police department and the water and light utility phoned or contacted people in the homes that were
without heat and power. Most people who were without power had already made arrangements to stay with friends or relatives
with power and heat and the emergency shelters were not needed.
Shortly after the storm, Chief Luers, who was an instructor in Disaster Plan Course offered by Blackhawk Technical College,
recommended to the Council that they update their disaster plans. Luers suggested that the local CB Club and the Fire
Department work with the police department to create plans for serious emergencies, such as the ice storm.
Chief Luers and the Evansville Ministerial Association also established an "on call" Chaplain service for the department in 1976.
There were many difficult situations where a clergyman could assist police officers as when they were called to tell family
members of an accident or death.
The local pastors agreed there was a need for this service and established a 24-hour service with the police department to
provide counseling services in emergency situations. Each pastor served as "on call" Chaplain for a one week at a time. Luers
also arranged for the pastors to provide sensitivity and counseling training for police officers
As budget time approached in the fall of 1976, the Evansville Police Officer's Association once again began bargaining with the
City Council for a contract. The City had offered a 15 cents per hour wage increased if the Association would drop the clause
requiring a six-man force. The City also wanted to the police officers to limit the amount of vacation they could accumulate.
Accumulated sick leave was also an issue of contention.
The contract was not settled until a Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission mediator was called in to work out a final
agreement. The police officers received a 37 cent an hour increase and officers could accumulate five weeks vacation over a
12 year period. The benefit package also included full payment of health and life insurance, and a shorter work week, reduced
from 42.5 hours to 40.25 hours. The City gained the right to determine the number of employees in the department.
The settlement brought questions from citizens about what they considered to be the high cost of police protection. Chief
Richard Luers, in a rare statement to the press, said that the total annual cost for the department in 1975 was $105,403.98,
including salaries for police officers, operating costs, and new equipment. Dispatchers and the ambulance services were not
included in these costs.
Luers also noted the low crime rate, and that the department's rapport with the youth of the community was excellent. "I think the
police department gives the taxpayer a good return on his investment; sure we don't catch all the stray dogs or speeders, but all
in all, we do a pretty good job."
The ambulance service included ten trained Emergency Medical Technicians, and six of those were policemen. Each year, the
ambulance crew members took courses to renew their certification as Emergency Medical Technicians. They were taught to
clear bnreathing airways, cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, care of fractures and treatment of trauma shock victims.
In March 1976, the EMTs serving on the Evansville Ambulance were Chief Luers, John Whitmore, Charles Babler, Bob Hallmark,
Alan Christensen, Jerry Mulholland, Francis Erbs, Richard Meyers, Kent Katzenmeyer, and David Stratton. Few other police
department in Southern Wisconsin had such well-trained personnel, according to Luers.
In addition to the ambulance, the police cars were also equipped with medical boxes that included stethoscopes, blood pressure
cuffs, and first aid equipment. These items could be used at accidents scenes or other calls for medical assistance, as the
police officer was often the first to respond.
While the ambulance charged a small fee for service, it did not cover the cost of operating the service. Luers estimated a
$71.92 cost for each run and the average income for the service was $36.97. He noted that the fees were not intended to cover
the cost of the service, but were to prevent people from calling the ambulance for a free ride to the hospital, thus tying up the
emergency vehicle for non-emergency calls.
As administrator of the police, ambulance and dispatchers, Luers was attentive to meeting the communication and other
equipment needs of the department. As new technology became available, Luers worked with other police units to improve
communications. When the Rock County Sheriff 's office asked communities in the county to participate in a new radio system,
Luers brought the new program to the City Council. A base unit, five mobile units and two portable units were purchased through
the federal grant program. Evansville's City Council agreed to pay $5,880 of the $19,600 cost for new radios. Federal funds
were received to pay for the remaining cost of the new radios.
The Evansville Police Auxiliary organized in 1976. Chief Luers wanted the uniformed volunteer personnel to assist officers
during the 4th of July, sports events, or emergencies. Police Officer Charles Babler was the liaison between the auxiliary and
the police department and conducted monthly training. Babler was also the city Civil Defense director and through the Civil
Defense program was able to obtain a surplus army 3/4 ton M37 weapons carrier jeep for the Auxiliary to use.
The police department did a background check on each member of the organization and the volunteers were trained in criminal
investigation, traffic control, riot and crowd control, tornado alerts. The members of the organization wore uniforms, similar to
Many of the members of the Auxiliary were also members of the Ten Four Modulators, the local Citizen Band Radio Association.
The Ten Four Modulators donated a Cobra CB unit for the Chevrolet squad car and a Cobra base station for the police and fire
This radio operated on the same radio band as citizens had in their cars and homes. The sets were tuned to Channel 9, the
channel designated by the Federal Communications Commission as the official CB emergency channel. In optimal conditions,
the radios had a range of 15 to 20 miles. The ambulance service also benefited by the proceeds from the Ten Four Modulator's
Early in 1977, Police Chief Richard Luers asked the City Council to consider purchasing a new ambulance to replace the
Department station wagon. The ambulance service funding was an issue of major concern in the police department budget.
The City Council annually reviewed the ambulance fees and in January 1977 discussed adding a mileage fee to the regular
charge for ambulance service. There was $5,865 in delinquent charges, some of the delinquencies were five years old.
Most of the aldermen did not want the ambulance service to have a deficit each year. However, one alderman suggested that
the service could be set up as a tax supported service, with little or no charges. Some of his constituents had suggested that
since they were taxpayers the service should be free to Evansville residents.
The Council discussed the proposal and finally agreed to add a $1.25 per mile charge to the basic cost for all ambulance runs.
They also agreed to investigate hiring a collection agency to try to resolve the payment of delinquent ambulance bills.
Replacement of equipment was another annual budget concern. In 1977, the police department received permission to get bids
for a new station wagon patrol car to replace the 1974 Ford station wagon, which had been used as a substitute ambulance.
Chief Luers also proposed a new radio system for communications with other Rock County police units. Evansville's portion of
the system would include five mobile units, 2 portable units and one base unit. The new system would allow Evansville police
officers to communicate with Rock County Sheriff 's deputies and police agencies and Dane County police agencies. Luers
explained to the Council that the new network was sponsored by the Rock County Sheriff 's department and seventy percent of
the cost of the units was supported by federal funds.
The communication system used a combination of higher frequencies, satellite receiving machines, and centrally located
repeaters. While Evansville's City Council waffled on whether they would accept the new system, a representative from the
Sheriff 's department warned that if the City of Evansville did not join the network, the local police would be unable to
communicate directly with the Sheriff 's dispatchers.
"Presently radio traffic among Evansville police, the Sheriff 's Department and other Rock County police agencies is almost
continuous, as they maintain checks on where their men are and what they are doing", Rock County Sheriff's Captain Joseph M.
Ash told the Evansville City Council. Evansville's communication system was outdated, according to Captain Ash. He also noted
that the system Evansville had in place was using a technology that was designed 50 years ago and was no longer efficient.
Chief Richard Luers advised the City Council to join the network of radios. "If we got equipment that wouldn't fit into the Sheriff 's
Department's network, we'd be just an island up here," Luers said. Despite the requests from Luers and Ash, Evansville was the
last Rock County City to approve joining the radio system and the system was not ready for installation until 1979.
Luers also recommended updating the ambulance. The ambulance service made over 200 runs a year and the department
used three vehicles as ambulances. The 1973 orange and white Chevrolet panel truck was the newest vehicle and was
specially fitted out as an ambulance. The ambulance crew also used a Chevrolet Malibu station wagon, that served as a second
police squad car. The vehicle Luers wanted to replace was a 1965 Ford.
Chief Luers recommended an ambulance that had been used by the Northland Equipment Company of Janeville as a
demonstrator. The cost was expected to be $17,500. However, since no money had been budgeted in 1977 for a new
ambulance, the City Council defeated the proposal.
Later in the year, Luers also informed the City Council that the Rock County Emergency Medical Service Commission, was
recommending that the townships form ambulance districts. In this new system the county would be divided into sections with
each ambulance district responsible for a given territory.
A state law required townships to form their own ambulance or contract with a public or private ambulance service. Evansville's
ambulance service already provided service to some townships. "We may as well have a contract so they can share the cost
and we can improve the level of service," Luers told the Council.
Local police received an unexpected emergency call to the home of one of their own officers in mid-February, 1977. Police
dispatcher, Forrest Williams, answered the call from off-duty police officer Jerry L. Mulholland who was screaming that his wife
had been shot. Police officer, Robert Hallmark, was the first to respond. The Evansville ambulance crew also responded
immediately. Deputies from the Rock County Sheriff 's office were called immediately because the home was just across the
Evansville border in Union Township.
When the police arrived, they found Mulholland's wife, Marlene lying in the doorway between the kitchen and living room.
Mulholland was in the living room. Marlene Mulholland was taken to Mercy Hospital in Janesville and died. Her husband was
arrested by Rock County Deputies and charged with her death. Mulholland's police service revolver was the weapon used in the
Chief Luers put Mulholland on indefinite suspension because of the charge and Mulholland submitted his resignation to the
police department. The City Council accepted the resignation at their February 21 meeting.
In his story to the Rock County Sheriff 's department, Mulholland insisted that the gun fired when he was trying to take the .357
magnum revolver out of the house. He told police that his wife grabbed his arm and the gun accidentally discharged, shooting
her in the forehead.
Shortly before Mulholland was suppose to go to trial, a second autopsy confirmed the story that Mulholland had told police. Two
lie detector tests also confirmed his story and the charges against him were dropped.
Mulholland tried to get rehired by the Evansville Police Department, but the City Attorney advised the City Council that the only
way he could be rehired was to go through the normal application procedures. He also applied for back pay of $1,345 or
reinstatement and the Council unanimously denied the claim.
In the meantime, the police department had already hired a new police officer. In April 1977, twenty-seven-year-old Kent
Katzenmeyer was named to replace Mulholland. Katzenmeyer was already a Emergency Medical Technician and a member of
the local ambulance service. He was also taking courses in police science at Blackhawk Tech. He completed the course work in
November 1977 and was one of 13 officers to graduate from the Police Recruit Training program.
In other personnel changes, police officer Alan Christiansen resigned in March 1978 to become Brodhead's police chief. A new
officer was appointed in April. Thomas Brennan, an Evansville High School graduate was hired at a salary of $870 per month.
Brennan had experience in emergency care work at a Milwaukee hospital and had also served as a security guard.
Thomas A. Norby also became an Evansville police officer in 1978. He completed the Police Science training program at
Blackhawk Technical Institute in November of that year. State laws required that this training be completed by all police officers
before their probationary period ended. The following year, Norby completed coursework in using the breatholizer, and in
handling juvenile problems.
Evansville police met with a very atypical situation in the spring of 1978 when a motorcycle gang appeared in town for the funeral
of one of their members. There had been several acts of vandalism that were attributed to gang members and Chief Luers
decided to take extra precaution and asked local tavern owners to close during the time the gang was expected to be in the city.
They complied and there were very few problems.
When some citizens complained that the Chief had over reacted, one local newspaper praised the Luers' actions. "Chief Luers
didn't overreact, he did his job. That includes being precautious. The cyclists are a rough bunch. They're used to trouble,
we're not. They know they're tougher and meaner than most." He also praised the common sense of the bar owners in closing
at Luers' request.
The Police Chief 's year-end report to the City Council for 1978 showed many routine activities. There had been 372 arrests,
mostly for traffic violations; 1,012 civil complaints, 31 juvenile complains and 126 ambulance calls. At their December Council
meeting the aldermen also approved the hiring of Dorothea Leader as a police dispatcher.
By late 1978, there was still no resolution to an agreement for Emergency Medical Service between the City of Evansville and
the townships of Porter, Union, Center and Magnolia. There was also a shortage of qualified personnel having a shortage of
and anyone interested in taking the training. Anyone interest in joining the Evansville EMT's was asked to contact Chief Luers.
The City had budgeted for three-man crews to man each ambulance call and this policy was implemented in January 1979.
In the winter of 1978-79, Evansville was hit by severe snow storms. Snow drifts, cold and hazardous road created many unusual
emergency situations. Local volunteer organizations were called on to help police rescue citizens.
On the very first day of 1979, a woman who was about to have a baby was trapped in her home by a heavy snow storm. The
Evansville police were called and snow plows were sent out to the home. The plows had to force their way through the drifts by
hitting them five or six times in order to make a path for emergency units.
The Evansville Police Auxiliary also responded with their emergency vehicle, because the ambulance could not make it through
the snow. Once the expectant mother's driveway was plowed she and her husband decided to drive their own vehicle to Mercy
Hospital in Janesville. They arrived in time for the delivery.
All through the first day of January in 1979, roads continued to be impassable for normal vehicles and the ambulance could not
get through the drifts. Just a few hours later after they were called out to help the pregnant woman, the Police Auxiliary was
called to transport another woman to a Madison hospital.
The Evansville Snow Devils Club, a group of snowmobilers, also assisted police in the early months of 1979. Members of the
group took emergency equipment and an officer to the scene of an accident when the police car could not get through the snow
Again in 1979, new personnel were added to the police force. Charles Flood became a new member of the police force in
February 1979. He had served in the U.S. Army Military Police and the Milwaukee Police Department. While working in
Evansville, Flood was also attending Blackhawk Tech in the Police Science program. A few months later, Flood completed
course work in juvenile in-take procedures. He was assigned to the night shift.
Other officers who completed advanced courses at Blackhawk Tech were Thomas Norby and Kent Katzenmeyer. Both
graduated in June 1979 with Associate Degrees in Police Science. The City Council agreed to grant Norby and Katzenmeyer
pay raises, based on their advanced training. This was an attempt "to keep qualified men on the force and keep them from
seeking greener pastures," one Councilman noted.
Chief Luers offered several suggestions for improvements in police and emergency vehicles. He told the City Council at their
July 1979 that if they were going to stay in the ambulance business they would need to meet federal laws relating to
ambulances. Evansville's ambulance did not meet all of the requirements and by the end of 1979 would be out of compliance
with federal rules.
Luers urged the Council to purchase a new ambulance. At their July meeting, the Council authorized Luers to advertise for bids
for a new ambulance. Luers also recommended a new ambulance because Evansville had only one ambulance in use in 1979.
The primary reason was that the City Council had decided to drop the insurance coverage for the use of the backup ambulance.
The radio system that had first been proposed in 1977 was finally installed at the Evansville Police Department in the summer of
1979. A 150 foot main antenna was located on County A with the equivalent of a 100 watt transmitter. Four satellite receivers
were place throughout Rock County to receive signals and relay them to the main tower by microwave.
With the new base unit, portable radios, and car radios, Evansville police were able to communicate with Edge With the new
base unit, portable radios, and car radios, Evansville police were able to communicate with Edgerton, Milton, Clinton, Orfordville,
Janesville, Beloit and the Rock County Sheriff 's department. Federal Law Enforcement Assistance Administration funds were
used to purchase the equipment. The old equipment was sold for $1,500.
At their December 1979 meeting, the Council authorized Chief Luers to purchase a new ambulance, a 1980 Ford from Northland
Equipment Company in Janesville for $19,780. The vehicle arrived in April 1980 and the old Ford squad that had served as an
ambulance was given to the Evansville Fire Department.
The Council also agreed to pay ambulance crew members $25 a call, an increase from the old rate of $10. Charges to the
patients carried in the ambulance were also increased. For the City of Evansville and residents of Union township the rate was
$105. Users outside this area were charged $185 for ambulance service.
The Emergency Medical Technicians who had completed the required training in 1980 were Carla Neuenschwander, Tim Shea,
Lenice Covert, Leo Sendelbach, Terrle Kaminski, Barb Pierce, Angie Miller, Penny Redders, Bob Tanner, Lois Grenawalt, Kent
Katzenmeyer and Scott Sperry.
There were several changes of personnel in the police department in late 1979 and early 1980. Long-time dispatcher Russ
Cook ended his employment with the city in December 1979. Part-time dispatcher, Betty Dunphy was hired to replace Cook.
In February 1980, Chief Luers placed an ad in the Evansville Review for a patrolman. He asked for someone with "good moral
character and highest personal integrity". The qualified applicant also needed to be certified by the Wisconsin Law Enforcement
Standards Board, pass a written, medical, oral test, and background examination.
Two new officers were hired from the thirty-seven people who submitted applications, Harland Leusink and Jeff Tomlin. The new
officers were hired on a part-time basis while they completed training and courses at Blackhawk Tech. They were to fill in for full
time officers on vacation or sick leave.
Tomlin replaced Charles Flood who resigned to work for the Rock County Sheriff 's office. The new officer graduated from the
Police Recruit Law Enforcement Academy at Blackhawk Technical Institute in November 1980. After completing the required
course work, Leusink and Tomlin soon became full time officers.
Charles Babler left the Evansville Police Department in October 1980, after several months leave of absence. Mayor Robert
Olsen stated that Officer Babler had given many years of fine service as an investigative officer. Harlan Leusink, Jr. was hired to
replace Babler and the appointment was approved at the December 9, 1980 City Council meeting
Luers commitment to Evansville's police and emergency services went beyond his work as a police officer and he also served on
many community committees. As early as 1980, the Rock County Board of Supervisors formed a planning committee to
implement a state mandated 911 emergency telephone number plan. Luers was appointed by the Board to serve on the first
planning committee. It was more than ten before any of the recommendations and long range planning ideas were put into place.
In Rock County there were more than 45 telephone numbers to reach 30 police, fire and ambulance services. The 911 number
would allow city and rural residents to use just one number to call in any emergency situation.
There were several personnel changes in the department in 1982. Tom Norby had taken a leave of absence from August 1982
until January 1983. In September, Harlan Leusink announced his resignation from the police department and became a police
officer for the City of Beloit. Luers informed the council that he was down to four men and planned to use part-time help until
Norby returned from his leave.
Jed Sperry was hired as a full time officer to replace Leusink. Jed Sperry was the second generation of his family to enter the
police force. His father, Stanley Sperry had also been an Evansville policeman.
Art Phillips and Frank Warner, Jr. were hired as the new part-time officers. Both Phillips and Warner were attending Blackhawk
Tech in the police science program.
The entire crew of police department personnel was pictured in the May 11, 1983 issue of the Evansville Review, in celebration
of Police Week. "The Evansville Police force is a concerned caring group from the officer in the squad car to the dispatcher,"
Luers told a reporter.
The police department had four full-time officers, two part-time and three dispatchers. Kent Katzenmeyer, Tom Norby, and Jed
Sperry and Sergeant John Whitmore were the full time officers. Frank Warner and Art Phillips had been hired for part time
The dispatchers were Betty Dunphy, Dorothea Leeder and Jack Covert. Dunphy and Leeder were the only civilian breathalyzer
operators in the state of Wisconsin.
In addition to performing their regular police work, four of the police officers were EMT's. Katzenmeyer, Sperry, Whitmore and
Warner served on the ambulance crew. After 20 years of operating the ambulance service, in 1981, the Police Department no
longer was responsible for its operation. The Emergency Medical Service was established as a separate city government unit.
The organization elected a set of officers. Many of the police officers and dispatchers kept up their training and remained part
of the EMT program. (Author's note: a separate article will cover the history of the EMT's anyone with information or
photographs of this service unit should contact the author.)
Dispatchers Jack Covert and Betty Dunphy were also members of the EMT's. The dispatchers were considered a very important
part of the police force. "Just because the dispatchers are not on the streets, it doesn't mean that their role is any less
important," Chief Luers said. "They are well trained and have had courses on how to handle many crisis situations. When they
receive calls from desperate, lonely people, they give them a great deal of comfort because they have had the proper training."
In 1981, after 20 years of operating the ambulance service, in 1981, the Police Department no longer was responsible for its
operation. The Emergency Medical Service was established as a separate city government unit, serving under the Public Safety
Committee of the City Council. The organization elected officers, with Bob Tanner as
president of the new organization.
The EMS started new publicity efforts to demonstrate their skills and to try to get volunteers. At the July 4th celebration in 1981,
the EMS and the Evansville Fire Department set up an accident scene on the pavement just outside the park store.
Using a car donated by John Radtke, the volunteers demonstrated the equipment known as the “jaws of life” and the emergency
techniques used to extricate passengers who are trapped in a wrecked vehicle.
The ambulance crew first entered the auto to prepare the passenger and the driver. They stabilized the victims and protected
them from further injury during the extrication process. Firemen removed the doors with the “jaws” and if the passenger could
be removed from the car, a backboard was used for transport from the car to the ambulance. The demonstrators explained that
the steering wheel and other car parts often have to be pulled away from the car in order to get the accident victims safely
removed from the vehicle.
The demonstration drew a crowd and several people commented to the EMS and the firemen that they had learned from the
demonstration. Few of those viewing the mock accident realized the skill and knowledge needed to safely remove accident
victims. The cooperative efforts of the fire department and the EMS squad were often needed at vehicle accidents. For more
serious injuries, helicopters from area hospitals were used to transport patients.
A few days after the 4th of July demonstration, the fifty stockholders in the Evansville Development Corporation donated nearly
$400 to the EMS. The check was presented by Prent Eager, president of the Evansville Development Corporation and Don
Thompson, the vice president.
Penny Redders and Bob Tanner accepted the check on behalf of the Evansville Emergency Medical Service. Tanner explained
that the gift would be used to purchase mast trousers, a piece of equipment that is used to in place of a tourniquet. Tanner told
the donors that by 1982, this equipment would be required on all ambulances.
In other efforts to publicize the work of the EMS, reports of ambulance calls were a weekly column in the Evansville newspapers.
The local group also participated in the Rock County Fair and manned the first aid station for a day.
There were also other local groups that coordinated their efforts with the fire department and emergency medical volunteers.
Police Chief Richard Luers had initiated a Police Chaplain Organization with local clergy. Rev. Wallace Harless, Rev. I. Dean
Jordan, Rev. Robert Garbrecht and Father Thomas Lourim had all agreed to serve as chaplains in an emergency.
Luers explained a possible scenario for the use of the Chaplain services: “An elderly woman is rushed to the hospital with a
stroke. Her 90-year-old husband is confused and bewildered. The ambulance personnel must see to her needs to save her life;
they cannot spare the time for her husband. He needs help in calling their children who live out of town, getting to the hospital,
and maybe he just shouldn’t be left alone, either.” The clergy was called to meet the needs of the family members of the patient.
Local businesses also helped to support the EMS service. In November 1981, the group received a check for $250 from Varco
Pruden. The money designated for ambulance equipment.
Dr. Sheila Sorkin replaced Dr. Roger Gray as the medical director of the EMS. Dr. Sorkin requested that a defribrillator be
placed in the ambulance to assist heart patients. New blood pressure equipment was also needed.
In order to raise funds for the new equipment, the EMS sponsored a pig roast and dance in June 1982. The local group also
offered free blood pressure and pulse readings and a demonstration model of the blood pressure equipment was used. The
equipment read the patient’s blood pressure in 5 seconds. The volunteers hoped that the demonstration would prompt more
donations for the machine.
The group was rewarded with another $800 donation from the Shilelagh Foundation. Bob Tanner, once again accepted the
money on behalf of the Evansville ambulance crew.
There was an ongoing need for new volunteers and in August 1982, a call went out for new recruits. Bob Tanner explained that
the volunteers had to complete a 26 week course, or 100 hours of training. Jack Covert and Tanner placed an ad in the local
newspapers announcing a series of three Emergency Medical Technical classes offered by Blackhawk Technical Institute. “We
Need You. Help Your Community and Join the Evansville EMS Team.” The classes could be taken at Beloit Campus or Monroe
A new fund raiser was organized by the ambulance crews and local business organizations. In February 1983, the Red Barn
was the scene of the “Snow Ball.” This was a revival of an old tradition in Evansville. The first winter balls were held in the late
1800s and supported the funding for aid to Evansville’s needy families. It was revived in the 1940s to support the local Little
This new revival included many of the ideas from the Little Theater Snow Balls. Queen candidates were nominated from local
volunteer organizations and local businesses helped to sell tickets to the event. Each ticket purchased was a vote for the Snow
Ball Queen. Proceeds from the ball were given to the ambulance crew to start a fund for a backup ambulance.
Queen candidates were invited to contact Marsha Dobbs, Harriet George, Mary Hull, Hannah Sorkin, Lois Waller and Jim
Patterson, the community and business members of the first committee for the new “Snow Ball.” Jim Patterson served as
Patterson told a Review reporter, “This then is a perfect change to have a fun-filled evening close to home and help a worthy
cause as well. As the Evansville EMT team services not only the city but also surrounding rural areas, we all benefit from their
efforts, talent and dedication. Many people are already aware of the fine job the EMT’s have been doing in the past. The
addition of a backup ambulance will enable them to service the area even more efficiently.”
The Ball was held on February 14, 1982 and had a Valentine theme. The Greg Anderson Band provided the music. Queen
candidates for the first dance were Kelly Wienke, Kaye Crocker, Dana Spooner, Terry Straka, Esther Turner, Shannon
Baumberger, Alice Grignano, Bonnie Kremer and Chris Flynn. Alice Grignano was crowned queen and the Snow Ball was
declared a “Rousing Success.” Plans were made for the same event to be held the following year.
Jed Sperry was appointed the EMS coordinator in the summer of 1983. Sperry, an Evansville police officer, was one of the crew
of 14 EMTs serving on the Evansville Emergency Medical Service.
Other members of the crew were Chief of Police Luers, Sgt. John Whitmore, Kent Katzenmeyer, Tom Norby, Frank Warner, Dave
Turner, Betty Dunphy, Barbara Pierce, Scott Sperry, Bob Tanner, Karen Krause, Rick Martingilio and Coralin Dohs. Dr. Sheila
Sorkin continued to serve as the Medical Director of the organization.
Sperry told an Evansville Review reporter that other communities, the size of Evansville and 30 or 40 members and a waiting list
of others who wanted to join. Evansville was not so fortunate and a new call went out for people to train as EMTs.
The Varco Pruden Company was singled out for praise as Sperry noted that local businesses allowed EMTs to leave their jobs
and respond to emergencies requiring the ambulance crew. Three of their employees volunteered as EMTs.
There were other community members who supported the EMTs with time and talent. Jim Patterson, Charles Maas, Robert
Raymond and Marvin Langeteig served on a committee to help raise funds for the ambulance. Although the city and townships
helped with funding, their budgets did not cover all of the equipment. The ambulance crews also wanted to build a facility to
house the ambulance and eventually get a new ambulance.
In addition to planning fund raising events, Patterson, a talented landscape painter, donated several of his works to use for
prizes at the Snow Ball. Raymond, an attorney, offered free legal advice. Maas, a retired insurance agent donated money
towards the purchase of a defibrillator and Langeteig, a banker, was active in the fund raising programs.
In addition to working accident scenes, transporting people to medical facilities for emergency care, and campaigning for funding
for their services, the EMTs also had to continue their education. EMT classes were offered by several different agencies,
including the University Hospital and Blackhawk Technical College (BTC).
Volunteers were required to take the basic EMT course, but many found it difficult to take the time to travel to schools where the
courses were offered. To encourage local people to volunteer, BTC offered classes in the communities where the EMTs
worked. A basic EMT course was offered at the Fire Station in Evansville.
The instructor, Bryan Northrop, was at the Evansville site two nights a week, for 3 ½ hours, from October 1983 to February
1984. This provided an opportunity for refreshing skills for current volunteers and training for new volunteers. Similar classes
were held at the fire stations in Milton, Beloit, Turtle Fire Station, and the BTC campuses in Monroe and Beloit. After completing
the course, the volunteers had to pass an examination in order to be eligible to serve as EMTs.
In July 1984, Jed Sperry resigned as Emergency Medical Coordinator and the Evansville City Council appointed Gary Culbert to
take his place. Karen Krause was named assistant coordinator.
A lengthy article appeared in the August 29, 1984 Evansville Review, with photos showing the volunteer Evansville EMTs and
Fire Department participating in a mock accident training.
In the mid-1980s, the coordinated efforts of the two organizations in training for and participating in rescue efforts at accident
scenes was common. The Evansville Police Department or Rock County Sheriff’s deputies were also called for vehicle accidents.
Culbert provided a new list of EMTs in service for Evansville in August 1984. New members included trainee Bill Hurtley, Chris
Norenberg, Bonnie Paugel, Sue Dwyer, Gina Shippee and Kathy Buttchen. Buttchen was also the training officer. Chief of
Police Richard Luers had retired from the Police Department and the Evansville EMS.
According to Culbert, more volunteers were needed. In the Review article, Culbert explained that all EMTs now had pagers so
they could easily be reached anywhere in town. The response time was usually four minutes for those volunteers who lived or
worked in Evansville. When asked why they volunteered, most EMTS responded that they wanted to help people.
Three people were needed for each ambulance run, a driver and two EMTs to stabilize the patient during transport to a medical
facility. The fire department was called out for vehicle accidents to provide additional personnel, traffic control, or in more
serious accidents, the “jaws of life” to pry apart vehicles to extricate victims.
“So many people at an accident think we only need the fire department if they are trapped in the car, but the manpower really
helps and we appreciate their assistance,” Assistant Coordinator Karen Krause told the Review reporter.
The ambulance and equipment for the EMS was housed in the basement of the City Hall. When the fire station was in use for
meetings by other organizations, the EMTs trained in the City Hall. They were constantly competing for space with other
committees and organizations.
In September 1984, the City Council gave the EMTs permission to use the old Boy Scout meeting room on the third floor of the
City Hall. The room had been used for storage and volunteers had to move old files and clean the space in order to use the
space for training and meetings.
The attic meeting room was a long climb from the basement ambulance bay. EMT trainers and students had to climb three
flights of stairs and carry the equipment needed for training. Evansville’s Mayor, John Jones, noted in his weekly newspaper
report, “The EMT’s are young and agile enough for it.”
In April 1985, a new alliance with the University of Wisconsin Hospital Med Flight program helped local EMTs provide better care
for critically ill patients or accident victims. Med Flight served an area within a 200-mile radius of Madison and was available
around the clock. Rapid transport to a medical facility was a great benefit to accident victims.
In the case of an accident or medical emergency, local police dispatchers contacted Med Flight. Local ambulance crews
stabilized the patient until the helicopter crew arrived.
A Med Flight spokesman said that most trauma victims died of head injuries, excessive bleeding and spinal cord injuries.
Survival rates for trauma victims improved 53 to 70 percent when they reached a medical facility with 60 minutes.
The annual snow ball was the chief fund raising program for the Evansville Emergency Medical Service. The proceeds from the
dance were used to purchase equipment for the ambulance. Karen Krause, an EMS volunteer, was the general chairman of the
Many area residents purchased Snow Ball tickets to support the Evansville EMS, even if they were unable to attend the dance.
By 1985 fund raising efforts were so successful that, in addition to purchasing equipment for the ambulance, the group was able
to establish a high school scholarship fund. The EMS scholarship committee was authorized to select a graduating senior who
planned to enroll in a one year or longer program in a health care related field. The 1986 recipient was Catherine Franklin.
The local ambulance crews responded to more than 150 emergencies each year due to car accidents, industrial accidents,
illness and other transports to local medical facilities. At accident scenes and other emergencies, the EMS volunteers were
assisted by the Evansville Fire Department, local police, Rock County Sheriffs deputies and the UW-med flight helicopter
Karen Krause was named EMS coordinator in 1986 and she and other EMS volunteers began to promote the need for a new
ambulance. Krause, Bill Hurtley and Betty Dunphy appeared at the September 9, 1986 City Council meeting to ask that funds
for a new ambulance be placed in the budget for the following year.
Krause reported that the ambulance used by the emergency crews had 50,000 miles on it. She told the Council members that
the vehicle frequently had electrical problems.
Bill Hurtley told the Council that the ambulance was top heavy and did not have enough room to comply with current state laws
regarding ambulances. Hurtley also told the Council about stress cracks in the fiberglass hood and water leaks. He said that
the dashboard had been repaired six times, but the problem had not been corrected.
After hearing the EMS report, the City Council members supported the replacement of the 1980 ambulance. Krause estimated
the cost to replace the existing ambulance was $48,250 to $51,085. The EMS crews favored an ambulance from the Horton
Ambulance Service in Appleton and offered to provide the down payment, if they could raise the money through fund raising.
On Saturday October 25, the volunteers put on their bright orange EMS jackets and went door-to-door asking for donations for
the new ambulance. In their first attempt, they raised $2,300.
Only half of the city was covered in the first day and so they set the following Saturday as the date for another fund raising
attempt. A news release in the Evansville Review asked those who had been missed in the first attempt to send checks to the
The fund drive was bolstered by a $500 from Varco-Pruden and by mid-November Krause reported to the Review that the drive
had raised about $9,000.
In the fall of 1986, the Evansville City Council placed the new ambulance in their next year’s budget. Rather than buy the
vehicle, the opted to lease a new ambulance and provided $11,000 for the first year’s rental.
By April 1987, the Horton ambulance was in use. The Econoline Ford V-8 was a demo and with the trade-in, the cost had been
reduced. The new vehicle had six compartments for carrying equipment, including long boards, a scoop stretcher, child car
seat, Ked sled, crash kit and a large bag with blood pressure equipment, stethoscope, and bandages.
The EMS service used donated funds to purchase new equipment for the ambulance in the fall of 1987, replacing an older blood
pressure unit at a cost of $1,995 and a suction machine costing $370.
Karen Krause resigned as EMS coordinator in May 1987 and Bill Hurtley was appointed to take her place. Karen continued to
chair the annual Snow Ball fundraiser.
Grateful citizens who needed emergency medical service and were assisted by the Evansville EMS often placed Thank You
notices in the local newspaper expressing their gratitude for the help they received. One such notice appeared in the July 29,
1987 Review: “How fortunate we citizens of Evansville are to have an E.M.S. team so efficient and carrying. They are always
there. And when you need them, like we did, they are wonderful. Dr. Sorkin, Barb Pierce, Sherry Woodstock and Bill Hurtley
responded to our call. We wish to thank them all from the bottom of our hearts.”
After a few months of use, the EMS volunteers reported that the new ambulance was having major fuel and electrical problems.
Shortly after the vehicle was delivered, the Horton company went out of business and in an effort to resolve the problems with
the vehicle the Ford Regional office was contacted.
For several months there was an ongoing dispute between the Ford Company and Horton, the manufacturer of the ambulance,
about who was responsible for the problems. Suggestions for solving the mechanical difficulties included putting the unit on a
new truck chassis or replacing the engine.
In July 1988, more than a year after the problems were first reported, EMT coordinator Bill Hurtley told the City Council that the
problem was still not resolved and that the engine had once caught fire. The City Council was informed that the ambulance’s
engine was retrofitted, but there continued to be problems. Hurtley said there was a waiting list of a year for a new diesel
engine. Trading chassis was expected to cost about $7,000.
At their August meeting, the Council approved $29,000 for the purchase of a new ambulance chassis. It was estimated that
replacing the chassis would take four to six weeks.
The City of Evansville and the area townships reached their annual ambulance service agreement in October 1989. The charge
for an ambulance run was set at $185, an increase of $70 per run.
Bill Hurtley, the EMS coordinator explained that additional funds were needed to cover increasing costs for supplies for the
ambulance and education for the volunteers. The townships also agreed to pay a total of $42,625, including a $2 per capita
Collection of ambulance bills was an ongoing problem. Union township agreed that their town treasurer, Eloise Wethal would bill
their residents within seven days of the ambulance call. Union township also agreed to cover more than $3,800 in unpaid bills
from 1986 and 1987.
The Evansville City Council also struggled to find ways to collect unpaid ambulance bills from local residents. When it became
obvious after months of billing a customer that no payment would be forthcoming, the Council wrote-off the charges. At nearly
every City Council meeting, the finance committee recommended the write-offs of delinquent ambulance bills.
Collection agencies were hired. Sometimes local dispatchers sent out the bills. The City Council found the cost of trying to
collect delinquent bills was more than they wanted to bear. There were frequent heated discussions about the City and
Townships inability to recover costs of the ambulance service.
Although the ambulance service was funded with tax dollars and fees, there was an ongoing need for equipment that was not
covered in the City and Townships budgets. The ambulance crew members were always pleased when local citizens took up the
challenge to cover these unfunded needs.
City Councilman Ron Buttchen and the EMS volunteers organized a new fund raiser, a car show, that took place in June 1989.
Local merchants donated prizes and collectors brought their antique cars, street machines, Corvettes and T-Birds to display at
the city park. Proceeds from the event were given to the EMS to purchase new equipment.
During 1989, the ambulance crews responded to more than 200 calls and averaged more than 4 calls per week. Although it was
an unusual occurrence, a baby was delivered by EMTs in the Evansville ambulance, in March 1989. The nine-pound baby and
mother were reported doing fine when they finally arrived at a Madison hospital.
On March 13, 1990, the local dispatchers received a call that a tornado had struck west of Evansville. Local emergency
services, including the ambulance crews were called to respond. Local farmers lost barns, roofs, and animals in the destructive
tornado, but there were no injuries.
Several of the volunteer EMTs were also dispatchers for the City of Evansville. They handled emergency calls for police, fire,
and ambulance service. Across the United States, the 911 dispatch system was being touted as a more efficient and less costly
method of handling emergency calls.
Rock County and area communities’ emergency personnel had discussed the implementation of a 911 system for a number of
years. If the 911 dispatching service was to be financially successful, the County needed funding from the municipalities.
In 1990, Phil Blaskowski, Rock County planner was one of the spokesman for Rock County’s 911 dispatch system. He
approached the City of Evansville and asked that the City and surrounding townships join the service.
About 30 people attended the 911 informational meeting held at the City Hall in July. The hearing resulted in mostly negative
The cost and local control were the main concerns of area residents and emergency service personnel. Evansville EMS
coordinator, Bill Hurtley, said that he thought the 911 program was good, but central dispatch in Janesville could cause problems
with personnel. Hurtley spoke about the expense of new pagers and other equipment. Evansville own dispatch system operated
efficiently and the EMS, Fire Department, Police and Civil Defense units and several citizens told the 911 organizers that they
were satisfied with the local dispatch service.
The negative feedback from the emergency personnel and local citizens was enough to make the City Council leery of funding
the program. At the August 1990 meeting of the Evansville City Council, the Public Safety Committee reported that all of the
local emergency units were interested in establishing their own 911 emergency dispatch system and using local dispatchers.
Blaskowski told those attending the hearing that the installation of a 911 system in Evansville would cost more than $142,000 the
first year. New equipment would cost $62,000; salaries would be $85,000 and phone line costs, $500. He explained that the
County 911 system would cost the City of Evansville $30,000, plus some non-dispatch expenses.
After hearing the comments from local citizens that they were happy with the existing dispatch service, the City Council voted
unanimously to decline the offer to join the Rock County 911 program. However, this was an ongoing discussion as the officials
from Rock County continued to request the participation of the City and surrounding townships.
In September 1990, Wisconsin’s Governor Tommy Thompson proclaimed a state-wide EMS Week, September 17 – 23.
Evansville EMS volunteers were honored during the celebration. Local citizens were asked to tell an ambulance volunteer how
much they were appreciated in the community.
The volunteers, in turn, thanked community members for their financial support and special donations. The Snow Ball continued
to be the most successful fund raiser in 1990. Other donations include a $100 gift from the Evansville Sno-Devil’s Snowmobile
Club, and $200 from Wisconsin Power and Light Foundation.
A full-page advertisement appeared in the Evansville Review, sponsored by more than 70 local businesses. A photograph of
the volunteer Emergency Medical Technicians appeared in the ad. Eighteen names were listed on the roster of the ambulance
service: Sharon Schenk, Bob Tanner, Tim Fisher, Bonnie Allen, Cory Dohs, Sherry Woodstock, Barb Pierce, Kathy Buttchen,
Shelly Crull, Karen Krause, Gregg Peckham, Amy Brickl, Betty Dunphy, Sue Dwyer, Jenny Winn, Gena Shippee, Art Phillips, and
EMS coordinator, Bill Hurtley.
The ad noted that the qualifications to be an EMT included 120 hours of EMT school, certification in CPR and defibrillation.
Evansville was one of several communities that sent EMTs to Mercy Hospital in Janesville for training in automatic defibrillation.
Dr. Rick Barney, Mercy Hospital’s EMS training center medical director, told participants at the October 1990 training sessions:
“early defibrillation is one of the most important measures to increase survival from cardiac arrest. It can be lifesaving for those
in a particular rhythm called ventricular fibrillation. Training the rural area EMT’s to defibrillate will allow this life saving technique
to be accomplished much sooner.”
Mercy Hospital staff also offered classes on childbirth and orthopedic injuries. The training prepared the EMTs for the many
emergency calls that they answered and also counted toward their certification requirements.
The Rock County 911 central dispatch offer was on the agenda again in 1991. In April the Public Safety Committee heard Police
Officer Arthur Phillips report. Phillips served on the Rock County 911 committee.
City Council members were again asked to commit funding to the Rock County 911 system. The system was expected to be in
operation by the end of 1992 and the County intended to build a new 911 dispatch center near the Sheriffs Department in
Phillips told the City Council members that Evansville’s portion of the cost would be $33,000. The communities of Milton, Clinton,
Edgerton and the town of Beloit had already committed to giving up their own dispatch system to join the County 911 system.
The Council members were not impressed and again unanimously voted to keep operating the local dispatch system. The
Evansville City Council continued to believe that they could operate their own 24-hour, 911 system with their own dispatchers at
a reasonable cost.
In the early 1990s, the Evansville EMS volunteers provided 24-hour, on-call service to Evansville residents while the City Council
and Mayor wrestled with two important issues concerning ambulance service. Rock County 911 service and collection of
overdue ambulance bills were topics of discussion at nearly every Public Safety Committee and City Council meeting. The two
issues even entered into the mayoral race in the spring of 1992
Evansville was one of only three municipalities in Rock County that maintained 24-hour dispatch service. Other Rock County
communities had dispatchers during the day and then turned their operations over to the Rock County Sheriff’s dispatching
service. By 1991, Evansville and the cities of Beloit and Janesville were the only communities in Rock County still operating their
own 24-hour dispatch service.
Even though the Sheriff’s department operated 24-hour dispatching service, Councilmen in Evansville were urged by a growing
number of vocal protestors to keep their own dispatch service. In August 1991, the Council heard from citizens, dispatchers,
EMTs and police officials before voting to keep Evansville’s dispatch service.
Also on the City Council agenda was the increasing cost of unpaid bills for ambulance service. Early in 1992, three candidates
were vying for the office of Mayor, incumbent Mayor Chris Eager; Councilman Richard Modaff; and Harlin Miller. All of the
candidates were concerned about the write-offs that City Council had made for ambulance bills. Rumors spread that Miller
favored selling the ambulance service and hiring an outside firm in order to eliminate the losses.
In an advertisement in the February 5, 1992 Evansville Review, Miller stated, “Rumor has it that I am in favor of selling the
ambulance service. Well, let me tell you that it’s ludicrous! The ambulance personnel do an excellent job of maintaining their
equipment and responding to their duties. I have mentioned the ambulance billing and collection process should be improved.
Over the past four years, write-offs have cost the city significantly by poor collection procedures and inappropriate budgeting.
Write-offs in 1991 were $7,725, in 1990 $16,360, in 1989 $6,925, in 1988, $5,068 for a total of $36,078.”
In the same issue of the Review, Modaff explained his views, “We have the best EMS in Rock County. To suggest selling the
service would eliminate the write-off expenses is flawed. A private carrier would just include those costs in the service contract to
the City at a higher rate than our service costs now.”
Miller won the April 1992 election and the fears that the Evansville EMS service would be sold were for naught. The ambulance
continued to operate and the delinquent bills continued to be an ever-present thorn in the financial considerations of the City
Ambulance costs also kept increasing. When the City of Evansville and the Townships using the service agreed to a contract for
1992 service the cost for ambulance customers was increased to $225 per person. The township tax per person was set at
$3.50 and based on the estimated population served in each township.
According to the 1992 agreement, the City of Evansville assumed responsibility for collection of ambulance bills, including the
costs of collection and writing off any long-overdue bills. The City Attorney, Tony Kraujalis, urged the City to seek payment
through small claims court if the ambulance bills were not collected.
At their September 1992 meeting, the council agreed to seek court action, if the ambulance bills were not paid within 90 days.
EMS director Bill Hurtley reported that the overdue bills due from Medicare totaled $26,000. Another $15,365 was due citizens
not covered by Medicare.
Hurtley said that payment of the Medicare bills was delayed as long as eight months. This frustrated the EMS billing service and
the local citizens who depended on the Medicare payments to satisfy their ambulance bills.
The City Attorney was put in charge of the “get tough” policy on collecting for ambulance bills. When he made a report to the
City Council in December 1992, Kraujalis had to admit that he was not as successful in bill collecting as the Council had hoped.
In 90 days, Kraujalis had sent out 57 bills and only 20 had reached the people that were intended. Wrong addresses and six
deaths accounted for the return of the mailings of 37 bills.
Only 10 of the 57 bills had been paid. The deadline for filing claims against estates had passed for some of the ambulance
customers who had died. Ten accounts were still lingering in small claims court. “I was surprised, because these are good
community people and they have chosen not to pay their bill,” Kraujalis told the City Council.
The community discussion of Rock County 911 service continued through the fall and spring. One of the requirements for the
service was an address system for buildings that was uniform and sequential. The 911 system had the ability to provide
locations using the addresses and this aided police and ambulance services in responding quickly to the correct location of an
In the Evansville area, Township fire numbers and city addresses were changed in the fall of 1992 to conform to the new
numbering system. Evansville’s post office also asked their customers to adopt the new numbering system.
Though the County 911 system was moving ahead in other communities, Mayor Harlan Miller urged the City Council to delay a
decision on the county-wide 911 system. “Eventually the city will be compelled to enter into this program,” Miller said in his State
of the City message.
Local dispatchers protested at a special hearing held in Evansville in September. Some feared they would lose their jobs.
Others noted that the local dispatchers could better serve the local residents, as they knew the EMS volunteers that were
scheduled for duty and could quickly contact them for service.
To explain the necessity for local service, dispatcher Sherry Woodstock told the Council about a situation where two accidents
occurred at the same time, “If that was our own dispatcher and we had 911 here, even though our ambulance was out, I could
still call our EMT’s right here at home. I know who’s on the run and who isn’t. Central can’t do that. All they can do is page and
page until you respond.”
Always concerned with keeping tax increases to a minimum, it was the cost of a local 911 system that continued to make the
county system an attractive option for City Councilmen. Hal Swanstrom, the 911 director was asked to attend the October 1992
City Council meeting and explain the anticipated costs for the service.
Swanstrom’s told the City Council that Evansville’s share of the 911 system for the first three years would be $32,900 annually.
After three years the cost would be based on 3.13 percent of the actual budget of the 911 system, based on the number of
people served. Swanstrom noted that based on total population, Rock County, Janesville and Beloit would pay nearly 75% of
the cost for the service.
When the three year cost of a local 911 system was analyzed, the equipment and personnel expenses were so high and it
quickly became obvious that the central dispatch system in Janesville was the least costly option. Estimated cost to the City
ranged from $550,000 to $730,000 over a four year period. This was dramatically more than the County 911 costs.
When Townships representatives learned that a local 911 System would cost them two times the amount they were currently
paying for dispatch services, they were reluctant to help Evansville establish a local 911. “We just won’t pay,” one Township
official was quoted as saying.
A petition signed by 130 local residents asked for a referendum to let the voters decide the question. “We do not want to
transfer to county dispatching, or county enhanced 911,” the petitioners wrote. There were enough signatures on the petitions
to force the Evansville City Council to put the question on the April 1993 election as a binding referendum. Just in case, the City
Council members placed money in the 1993 budget to cover the County 911 costs.
At the April election, Evansville voters said no to a local system and voted 463 to 387 to join Rock County’s 911 program. The
process was set in motion to join the 911 system that was still in the planning stages. In a unanimous motion, the City Council
gave their approval of the Rock County 911 agreement at their June 8, 1993 meeting. Citizens were warned not to dial 911 until
the system was operational.
EMTs serving the Evansville area in 1993 were Bill Hurtley, Coordinator; Barb Pierce, assistant Coordinator; Sherry Woodstock,
training officer; Bonnie Allen, recording secretary; Bob Tanner, treasurer; Kathy Buttchen, Sharon Schenk, Jason Jones, Tim
Fischer, Karen Krause, Sue Hunt, Shelly Hanke, Scott McElroy, Art Phillips and Jeff Paul. A photograph of many of those
serving appeared in the May 26, 1993 issue of the Review.
After years of study and discussion the Rock County 911 system was implemented in December 1993. As a result, several
Evansville dispatchers, who had also served as EMTs were no longer employed by the City. Some of the dispatchers were hired
by the Rock County 911 system.
There were other changes with the Evansville Emergency Medical Service in late 1993. At the City Council meeting in early
December, Bill Hurtley turned in his resignation as EMS coordinator. He had served for five years. Assistant coordinator Barb
Pierce was appointed to serve as coordinator.
The contract with the townships for ambulance service was changed and the per capita tax for service was raised from $3.50 to
$5. The change was approved at the January 11, 1994 Evansville City Council meeting. The Council also learned that the Town
of Center was withdrawing from the Evansville ambulance contract to join the Footville EMS. Center Township officials believed
the change would save them money and provide quicker service for most residents.
Betty Katzenmeyer, a former Evansville dispatcher, was hired as the police department secretary and also did the billing for the
ambulance service. At the May 1994 Public Safety Committee meeting Katzenmeyer reported that a total of $17, 457, or the
equivalent of 62 runs by the EMS, was due for ambulance service.
The unpaid bills for patients covered by Medicare or Medicaid were the most serious problem. Unknown addresses, Medicare
and Medicaid’s failure to pay for the total cost of services, and other bills considered uncollectible were written off by the
Committee, at this same meeting. For several months the Public Safety Committee and the City Council debated a number of
solutions to the collection problem.
Early in 1995, Barb Pierce and Sandy Martinson took over the billing process. When the collection problem continued, despite
the efforts of the two women, the City Council and Public Safety Committee decided to hire the Credit Bureau Center in Monroe
to do the ambulance billing. Township representatives also urged the city to hire a collection agency. The Monroe Collection
agency began their billing on October 1, 1995. The Councilmen estimated they could save nearly $6,000 with the new plan.
The annual Snow Ball, one of the major fund raising programs for the EMS was dropped in 1994. No Snow Ball was held that
year for the first time since 1983. Other fund raising efforts and donations by individuals and organizations continued to be a
great benefit to the organization.
Donations from area organizations included a $100 donation from the M & I Bank. It was part of the bank’s commitment to
community service. In November 1994, the EMS and the Evansville Fire Department received a donation of $500 each from the
Brooklyn Sportsman’s Club. Bob Tanner accepted the gift on behalf of the Evansville EMS.
The health safety of the EMTs was addressed in several ways in 1994. The Blood Borne Pathogen Exposure Control Plan was
updated to meet current state standards and the Evansville Pharmacy agreed to provide the Hepatitis-B vaccine to the EMTs at
a reduced price.
At the September 1994 Public Safety Committee, Coordinator Barb Pierce asked that the Committee begin budgeting for a new
ambulance. The one used by the EMS had more than 47,000 miles on it and the EMTs were making 10 – 20 runs each month
for a total of 207 runs in 1994.
Center Township had dropped out of the Evansville EMS contract and was served by the Footville Fire Department. However,
this had no effect on the number of ambulance runs. With one less township to serve, the local EMS made more runs in 1995
than they had in 1994. In 1995, 219 ambulance runs were made by the Evansville service.
In addition to the number of miles on the ambulance, the vehicle continued to have electrical problems and as a temporary
measure, the Public Safety Committee agreed to have the ambulance electrical system repaired.
With limited trained personnel, the local emergency personnel, police, fire department and ambulance service, needed to
prepare for storms and other major disasters that could endanger the lives of Evansville area residents. The plans for the local
ambulance staff included identifying local residents with special needs. Barb Pierce compiled a list of residents who used
oxygen in their homes, so that in case of a power outage, the EMS could respond with temporary supplies of oxygen or other
For several months in 1994, a task force studied the space needs and the accessibility of City Hall and other buildings that were
being considered as possible City Hall sites, including a former IGA building on South Madison Street and the former Piggly
Wiggly building, also on South Madison street near the city limits.
EMT Katy Buttchen spoke of the need for more space for the EMTs at a meeting of the task force in early May 1994. Buttchen
noted that the EMS ambulance and equipment were in a crowded space in the garage of the City Hall. There was very little
room for the ambulance and equipment and there was no training space available. “Where are your priorities?” she asked the
City Council. “We’re left in the basement.”
Both of the former grocery store buildings were rejected as sites for the City Hall. After consideration of the various options, the
City Council voted to buy land and buildings that would serve both the EMS and the Police Department. The old Water & Light
building on Exchange Street, and a vacant Wisconsin Gas office building on East Main were two of the options considered.
However, finding space that would suit both the police and ambulance service proved to be difficult. The option that the City
Council chose was for the City offices to remain in the 1892 City Hall building and the Evansville Police Department was moved
into the former Gas Company office on East Main Street. There was no space in the new police department building for the EMS.
However, since there was no space in the old City Hall building, the EMS staff immediately began to make plans to use rooms
formerly used by the Police Department. Ten thousand dollars was budgeted for project, including repainting the garage in the
basement of the City Hall. The old jail cell and the evidence room were remodeled for office and training purposes.
Early in 1995, Barb Pierce and Sandy Martinson took over the billing process. When the collection problem continued, despite
the efforts of the two women, the City Council and Public Safety Committee decided to hire the Credit Bureau Center in Monroe
to do the ambulance billing. Township representatives also urged the city to hire a collection agency.
The Monroe collection agency began their billing on October 1, 1995. In the 1996 budgeting process in the fall of 1995, the City
Council appropriated $3,000 to pay the Monroe collection agency for the services. The Councilmen estimated they could save
nearly $6,000 with the new plan. Sue Hunt continued to bill for the services, with only the most difficult collection cases going to
the collection agency.
The Council also authorized a change in billing for ambulance runs. The base rate for a run was $200, with additional charges
for mileage and the use of special equipment, including oxygen and defibrillator.
In December Barb Pierce announced her resignation as EMS coordinator to be effective January 9, 1996. At their January
meeting, the City Council the City Council appoint EMT Cindy Dietrich as the new coordinator.
At the February 1996 meeting, the City Council authorized an annual payment of $2,500 for the EMS coordinator and $1,500 for
an EMS billing clerk. Sue Hunt was re-appointed to serve as the EMS billing clerk.
The Public Safety Committee asked the EMS to do some long term planning and submit a report on the goals of the
organization. The new EMS coordinator, Cindy Dietrich, presented the report at the March meeting of the Public Safety
Five new EMTs were recruited and in training in early 1996.
Donations for special equipment and supplies not covered in the regular budget were welcomed and publicized by the local EMS
service. A large personal donation in the Spring of 1996 was noted in the April 3, 1996 Evansville Review. Stoughton Trailer’s
employee Allan Stolka donated an award of $500 he had received for perfect attendance at the plant. Local EMTs Tim Fischer,
Colleen Gransee and Mary Beaver were pictured with Stolka, as he presented the check.
Dietrich served as Coordinator for just five months and resigned. Art Phillips, an EMT and police officer, was named EMS
coordinator at the May 14, 1996 meeting of the Evansville City Council.
Medical emergencies in the city of Evansville accounted for 205 ambulance runs by Evansville’s Emergency Medical Service in
1996. Ambulance calls in the townships included: Union Township 63; Porter Township 13; Magnolia Township 7; Brooklyn
Township 2 and Center Township 2. Sue Hunt, the ambulance billing clerk had billed $61,236 for the 1996 runs.
These statistics were used by the Townships to try to reduce the taxes for this service when the annual contract for ambulance
service between the townships of Union, Porter, Magnolia, and Brooklyn township in Green County was held in January 1997.
The annual contract negotiations were led to the perennial lengthy discussion about the costs of ambulance service and the
problems with collection.
In negotiations for the 1997 contract, township representatives tried to reduce the $5 per capita tax for their residents. Wayne
Disch, Union township representative voiced the opinion that the townships were subsidizing the city of Evansville. He noted that
74% of the runs were for Evansville city residents.
When Disch questioned the cost to the township residents, Evansville’s City Administrator, Mike Davis, explained that the city
housed the ambulance and equipment, assumed the liability for the service and also earmarked $100,000 in the Evansville
budget for a new ambulance in 1997.
“The city has the risk of larger losses. Do the townships want to share in this?” Davis asked the township supervisors. Disch,
the Union township attorney Jeff Roethe and the others agreed that the tax for township residents was fair. The ambulance
agreement was approved by the city and the township.
Specifications for a new ambulance were written early in 1997 and presented to the City Council at the March meeting. City
Administrator Mike Davis announced in March that only one bid was received. The bid was from 5 Alarm Fire and Safety
Equipment, Inc. of Fort Atkinson, for a 1997 Horton Emergency Medical Vehicle. The quoted price was $95,984 and Davis said
this was within the Evansville City budget amount of $100,000.
The old ambulance was stored in the Water and Light Building on Exchange Street.
The new ambulance arrived on August 13, 1997 and was appropriately painted with The Grove logo and a blue and white color
scheme, the same colors used by the Evansville High School sports teams. There were 330 ambulance runs in 1997.
In December 1997, a call went out for more volunteer Emergency Medical Technicians as there were just 12 active members of
the crew. An ad was placed in the Evansville Review announcing the classes offered by Blackhawk Technical College. Those
interested in volunteering, but lacking the basic Emergency Medical Technical course had the opportunity to take the classes at
the Evansville High School beginning in January 1998.
One hundred-twenty hours of training were required for the EMT-Basic certification. The Evansville volunteers sponsored the
program so that there was very little cost to the participants.
According to the training standards published by the EMS section of the Wisconsin Division of Public Health, students were
required to take the 1994 National Standard DOT course. In order to maintain the EMT certification, volunteers had to complete
30 hours of continuing education, including the DOT refresher course and current CPR. Licenses were to be renewed every two
In addition to the formal training offered by Black Hawk Technical Institute and others, the Evansville EMTs also trained with the
University of Wisconsin Hospital Medflight helicopter crews. The University had two helicopters to respond to calls and reported
that the requests for Med Flight had quadrupled since the service started in 1985.
In June 1997, the UW Hospital’s helicopter flew into the City Park. The Med Flight crew instructed the Evansville EMTs on
procedures and protocols to follow in emergencies when the helicopter & hospital staff were called in to help.
Another training session was held in October and coincided with the Evansville High School homecoming. The mock traffic
accident was intended as an educational opportunity to show high school students the dangerous and often fatal results of
drinking and driving. The training session was a joint effort between the Evansville High School student council, ambulance
crews, the fire department, police department, UW-Med Flight, and Ward funeral home. Students portrayed the victims of the
Other classes held by the local EMS included blood handling. Blood-born pathogens had become a major concern of EMS and
other emergency personnel because of the danger of contamination in working with patients with AIDS and hepatitis.
The remodeling of the ambulance quarters in the City Hall continued. New garage doors with an automatic opener were installed
in the ambulance garage in the basement of the City Hall in early 1998. A washer and dryer were also installed in the garage.
Mary Beaver became EMT coordinator in May 1998, replacing her brother and police officer, Art Phillips. Phillips had served as
an EMT for 11 years.
Sue Hunt resigned from her position as billing coordinator in June 1998 and Colleen Gransee was hired to replace her. Hunt
was congratulated for the outstanding work that she had done and was named Evansville City Government Volunteer of the
Volunteers in the fall of 1998 were Mary Beaver, EMS coordinator, Tim Fischer, the training officer, Mary Lou Larson, secretary,
Colleen Gransee, assistant coordinator, Kathy Buttchen, treasurer, Mike McCoy, Shanna Sperry, Sue Hunt, Anne Kolasch,
Dennis Cooper, Candi Hanson, Teresa DiSalvo.
Responding to accident calls involving children was stressful for the parents, the child, and the EMTs. To reduce the anxieties
and calm the fears of children, the ambulance crews kept a supply of teddy bears to give to young accident victims.
A school bus accident in November 1998 depleted their supply. EMT Mary Lou Larson heard about a teddy bear give-away
called the “Teddy Bear Brigade” sponsored by Madison radio station Magic ’98 and she contacted them. The station responded
with a gift of a new supply of bears and two Madison TV stations showed up at the Westgate Mall to film the presentation of the
bears to the Evansville EMTs.
The 8th grade home economics classes of Deb Herbers also decided to help by making some cuddly animals for the ambulance
crew to give away. The students sewed 24 “service beanies” including frogs, ducks, bears and fish for the EMS.
EMTs responding to farm accidents need to be trained to handle victims trapped in machinery or those who had been poisoned
by coming in contact with spilled farm chemicals. To prepare for farm accidents, Evansville EMS volunteers attended training
sessions sponsored by the Evansville and Albany Fire Departments in June 1999.
Several experts from FARMEDIC gave demonstrations and talks to prepare volunteers for rescue situations. The 10-hour
training included sessions at the Evansville Fire District station, Larson Acres Dairy Farm and Worthington Ag Parts. The
volunteers were taught to identify farm chemicals and improved their emergency medical skills by participating in rescuing
“victims” from mock farm machinery accidents.
When not on official duty responding to medical emergencies, the Evansville Emergency Medical Service (EMS) volunteers train
and take part in community activities. Working with other organizations and medical facilities, the volunteers work to maintain
their skills to provide the best possible service when they are called to a medical emergency.
Local EMTs have a variety of opportunities to attend classes. Mercy Hospital’s Training Center offers classroom training with
defibrillators, medications, and equipment to open airways for patients having difficulty breathing. Mercy’s staff also evaluate the
volunteers and test them on the skills required of EMTs.
In addition to formal training, the local EMTs also provide training on equipment at their monthly meetings. The Evansville City
budget funds EMT Basic courses for volunteers who agree to serve as EMTs in Evansville. The City budget also allows for
continued training so that volunteers can renew their certification every two years.
The Evansville EMS is one of the few units in the state that sponsors students at Madison Area Technical College or Blackhawk
Technical College. Students must maintain 70% scholastic standing in the classroom at the technical college or they are not
allowed to continue with the training.
Cooperative training with the University of Wisconsin MedFlight, the Evansville Fire
Department, The Evansville Police Department, the Red Cross, and Rock County Emergency Management also helps the local
EMTs prepare for disasters.
In 2001, the EMS held a mock disaster training at the Union Co-op facilities on Highway M. EMTs taking part in the training
were Mary Beaver, Tom Beaver, Deborah Purkapile, Carolyn Meyer, Colleen Gransee, Marylou Larson and Kathy Buttchen.
Volunteers portrayed accident victims injured by an explosion and trapped in the huge grain silos and overcome by dangerous
chemicals. The emergency personnel rescued the victims, prepared them for transport to hospitals by ambulance and
helicopter. Others were treated for “injuries” at the scene.
Following this mock disaster, the Evansville Fire Department and the EMS attended hazard materials training at the local fire
station. The Dane County HAZMAT team brought their specially designed transport unit to Evansville so that local emergency
personnel could tour the bus and learn more about the HAZMAT team.
Another mock accident demonstration was held at the local high school in October 2001, during homecoming week. The
simulated accident of two wrecked vehicles, a bicycle and student “victims” demonstrated the effects of drinking and driving.
Students watching the accident saw victims removed from the wrecked vehicles, the driver arrested for driving under the
influence of alcohol and the coroner declaring a victim dead. The Ward Funeral home provided a hearse and staff to take away
the accident victim who did not survive.
Local emergency personnel held a debriefing with the students following the demonstration to give them an opportunity to ask
questions. The session also allowed EMTs and others a chance to stress the importance of driving safely.
In addition to the time spent in training, the Evansville EMS volunteers are responsible for fund raising. Donations and fund
raising continue to be important for purchasing equipment that is not provided in the City and Township budgets.
Twice each year, in the spring and the fall, the EMS holds an aluminum can drive. The drives bring in between $600 and $900.
Money received from the can drive has been used to purchase winter jackets, thermometers, blood glucose meters, and long
boards for the ambulance. Donations are also used to provide scholarships for local high school seniors.
Generous donations have been provided by grateful families who have been helped by the local EMS. Examples of the
generosity of local residents in 2001 include a donation of $1,100 from the family of Harold and Evelyn Gransee.
Local resident, Joan Smith donated a quilt for the EMS to raffle. Jeff Farnsworth’s State Farm Insurance agency donated 40
teddy bears for the EMS to use when they are called to emergencies involving children.
The following year, in 2002, the Evansville EMS volunteers received a donation from the estate of Mabel Apfel. The check was
presented by Doris and Art Olsen.
During EMS week 2002, the photographs of the 12 EMTs serving on the Evansville ambulance crew appeared in a full page ad
in the Evansville Review. Local businesses sponsored the ad for EMS Week. Amanda Johnson, Teresa DiSalvo, Rick
Purkapile, Karla Gay, Carolyn Kleisch, Debbie Purkapile, Tim Fischer, Anne Kolasch, Kathy Buttchen, Tom Beaver, James
Bates, Dennis Cooper (driver), and EMS coordinator Mary Beaver were pictured.
In addition to their training and fundraising efforts, the Evansville EMS volunteers also participate in many community activities.
In 2002, they started a program called “File of Life.” The EMTs distributes magnetic pockets, with a card to record emergency
medical information. The card provides EMTs with a patient’s medical history and details about medications, if the patient is
unable to speak and provide the information. A card with the same information is also available for carrying in a purse or
Once the “File of Life” is filled out and inserted in the magnetic pocket, it should be placed on the outside of the refrigerator
door. There is also a decal for the outside door or window. The decal alerts EMTs that the medical information was available.
The “File of Life is offered to local residents at Senior Fairs and other community events or at the EMS office in the City Hall.
These are available by calling the EMS office, 882-2269.
Replenishing the supply of teddy bears for comforting children has been on ongoing project for Evansville organizations and
businesses. In February 2003, Evansville’s Girl Scout Troop #36 presented more than 100 teddy bears for the EMS, the
Evansville Fire Department and the Evansville Police Department.
Prevention of diseases being carried home to family members is important to the EMTs. The City Council recognized these
dangers and decided to add a showering facility to the EMS space in the City Hall. The Council approved the remodeling at their
March 11, 2003 meeting.
In April 2003, the City Council began discussion about the purchase of a new ambulance. Mayor Janis Ringhand noted in her
2003 State of the City message that it was important for the public safety of Evansville residents that the local emergency
responders have improved equipment and working conditions. By the end of 2003, the EMS volunteers had responded to 313
In March 2004, the Evansville EMS, along with the Police Department and Fire Department were honored by four local insurance
companies, Hagen Insurance, American Family, State Farm and Dave Mosher & Associates. The businesses sponsored a
luncheon for the emergency personnel and paid tribute to the services they provide to the community. Tom Cothard, an
Evansville City Council member commended these community heroes, “My heartfelt gratitude to all of you who serve our
community. All of Evansville can be proud.”
Each year the local EMS volunteers participate in the Week of The Young Child activities held in the spring. The EMTs
demonstrate equipment they use at accident scenes or in other medical emergencies and have the ambulance in the celebration’
The Relay for Life, a fund raiser for the American Cancer Society, is another activity that the EMS volunteers participate in each
year. The volunteers also participate in the 4th of July, Homecoming parade, and other parades in the community. EMTs will
also give tours of the ambulance garage to school groups, organizations, and for other special events.
Mary Beaver, EMS coordinator for the past 7 years, was named the full-time coordinator in November 2004. She covers days
and other hours as needed. Mary maintains the schedule for other volunteers so that there are emergency personnel ready to
respond 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
For some EMTs the volunteer work is a family affair. Mary Beaver, her husband Tom, and son Zack, all are trained EMTs and
serve on the Evansville ambulance service. Zack also teaches CPR and is certified through the Mercy Training Center to teach
the use of the automated emergency defibrillator (AED) now being used in many public buildings.
Husband and wife team, Deb and Rick Purkapile also make the Evansville EMS a volunteer activity. Others serving the
Evansville EMS in 2005 are 20-year volunteer Kathy Buttchen, Carolyn Kleisch, James Bates, Anne Kolasch, Karla Gay, David
Mahoney, and driver Dennis Cooper.
The EMTs are anticipating the arrival of a new ambulance in the summer of 2005. It is being ordered from the same company
that provided the 1997 ambulance that is still in service, the 5 Alarm Fire and Safety Equipment, Inc. of Fort Atkinson. The new
vehicle will have more storage space and will be more open than the old ambulance. They expect to keep the 1997 ambulance
for a back-up emergency vehicle.
What do the Evansville EMTs dream that of having to improve ambulance service? A new building with training facilities,
sleeping quarters, office space for locked files, and a 2-bay garage would be welcome additions, according to Coordinator Mary
In 2002, there was a proposal to have a new building that would house both the fire department and the EMS. At the time, the
Fire Department was hoping to purchase a 1 ½ acre parcel vacated by the Union Co-op. The two departments would share a
building and maintain a working relationship, but have separate budgets and governance. Three years later, the organizations’
locations have not changed. The fire district maintains its own building on Church Street next door to the ambulance service
housed in the City Hall.
For many years, the person serving as EMS coordinator has put out a call for more volunteers. That call for volunteers
continues in 2005. According to Mary Beaver, the Evansville EMS could use more volunteers, especially during the day.
Volunteers are paid $25 a run (the same as in 1980) and $1.50 an hour when they are on call. More information is available
from Mary Beaver, who maintains an office in the Evansville City Hall and can be reached at 882-2269.
Note: Special thanks to Richard Luers, Carla Neuenswander and Mary Beaver for information provided for this series. Thank
you to all of the volunteers who have served the Evansville Emergency Medical Service since its beginning in 1961.