Concerns over response time prompted a discussion with the Pelican Rapids City Council and Ringdahl Ambulance Service Oct. 12.

Ambulance services are facing workforce issues similar to other businesses, said Tollef Ringdahl. Compounding the problem is no Medicare increases for about 18 years. 

“The biggest problem is we can’t afford more paramedics and EMTs,” said Ringdahl, who said it was a nationwide problem. 

Councilmembers have been aware of slow responses, even though Ringdahl has a station in the city. 

Vergas and Elizabeth have volunteer rescue squad, but Pelican does not. 

There have been instances where Ringdahl is performing a non-emergency patient transfer call, from Fergus Falls to Fargo, for example, and there is no ambulance available in Pelican. 

Councilman Steve Strand noted that Ringdahl contracts with the city and area townships, with the expectation that an ambulance and crew are available. 

Ringdahl said the service was “short-staffed even before the pandemic. 

“We could hire 12 right now…We’re about half staffed.” 

City administrator Don Solga commented “a 50 percent under-staffing is significant…How long can you continue at that level?”

The matter was only up for discussion. No action was taken, but the ambulance service will continue to be monitored by the city.