WILTON, IOWA — When Emergency Medical Services Captain Nick Frommelt first arrived in Wilton in February of 2020, he felt shocked to learn that a fire department in a city of its size lacked an ambulance. “I thought it was absurd that a town of 2,800 people and that served another city, Moscow, didn’t have its own ambulance,” he recalls. Frommelt began discussing the idea of getting an ambulance with people throughout the city. At first, they expressed skepticism, as previous attempts to get an ambulance had failed. However, with the backing of the department of fellow department members, the city, and local residents, Frommelt helped the Wilton Fire Department acquire its first ambulance and put it into service July 1.
Frommelt began by researching the cost of ambulances and found that new ambulances cost, on average, $300,000. A hefty price tag for a volunteer fire department. He then began exploring used ambulances and found one that would suit Wilton’s needs. Soon, he found a fire department in Minnesota selling an ambulance in good condition that they no longer needed for $130,000 that would be perfect for Wilton. Frommelt then began fundraising for the new ambulance and approached the Wilton City Council for approval.
After creating a detailed budget for the project, which the council accepted, Frommelt also got an interest free loan from the fire board to allow the department to finally purchase the ambulance and the equipment needed to ensure patients comfortable and high quality care. This equipment included both a Lucas compression device to provide CPR and a LifeVest wearable defibrillator. In total, the ambulance and equipment cost about $175,000.
In April, the ambulance arrived in Wilton and the department began the process of stocking it with equipment and supplies, detailing it, and adding a radio. Because the ambulance arrived in good condition, Frommelt found that, “it was pretty much ready to go for us.”
As a final step, the ambulance had to undergo a state inspection before the department could put it into service. It passed with flying colors. “After the inspection, they said everything looked good and they were really excited for us,” said Frommelt.
On July 1, the Wilton Fire Department’s contract with the Durant Ambulance Service ended and at midnight, they could officially begin transporting patients. “It’s a huge relief–we’re all excited that it’s here,” Frommelt shared. “It was like counting down to midnight on New Year’s Eve.”
Not long after the ambulance went into service, the department got their first call and put it into action. Frommelt felt extremely grateful that the Wilton Fire Department had this new asset available to the community and that they can use it to continue saving lives for years to come. “The community support was amazing and it made us want to do it even more,” he beamed.
As Wilton begins offering ambulance service for the very first time, they look forward to continuing to improve it. In the next year, Frommelt said that the department plans to send four of its members to paramedic school to expand what they can do to help the patients they transport.