Ambulances & Vehicle Ops, News, Operations

Madison, Wis. Pushes City to Buy 9th Ambulance

MADISON, Wis. – The city’s fire chief is making a push to have a 9th ambulance service the city, saying the fire department is not adequately staffed for medical emergencies.

The council is voting on the proposal today. Read the city’s full blog post below.


Last year, the City opened Fire Station 14 on Madison’s far southeast side, filling an urgent need for frontline fire and EMS protection in that area. Nevertheless, the City still falls short in providing prompt ambulance response and emergency transport to our community on the southeast side.

At its meeting tomorrow, November 12, the City of Madison Common Council will consider a budget amendment that would fund a ninth ambulance, allowing us to provide additional advanced life support and a means of emergency transport directly from Fire Station 14’s territory.

When you call 911 for an ambulance, we are able to get an ambulance to your door in under 9 minutes nearly 90% of the time. That is, unless you’re located in Station 14’s territory. There, we are able to get an ambulance to your door in under 9 minutes only 53% of the time. When you’re confronting a health crisis like a traumatic injury, stroke, or heart attack, this statistic is simply unacceptable.

Right now, Engine Co. 14 is staffed with one paramedic every day. This paramedic can assess patients’ needs and administer advanced life support medications, but without an ambulance, they cannot get the patient to the hospital.

This image, provided by the city of Madison, Wis., shows the locations of existing ambulance stations in red. The 9th ambulance the city wants is circled in blue.

Those in Fire Station 14’s territory still primarily depend on ambulances traveling from Station 5 (Cottage Grove Road), Station 6 (W. Badger Road), and Station 8 (Lien Road) to respond to their neighborhood. When they do, these ambulances are no longer available to respond to emergencies in their own territories, causing a domino effect of dependence on other ambulances to cover the rest of the city.

Funding a ninth ambulance at Station 14 would also help alleviate the city-wide shortage of medic units we confront on a daily basis. Between September 15, 2019 and October 30, 2019, the City ran out of available medic units a total of seven times. On average, the City had only one ambulance available at least once per day while others were tied up on active emergencies. At least four times per day, the City was down to only two available ambulances to cover the rest of the city. Ten times per day, the City had only three ambulances available.

These shortages result in delayed ambulance response times across the board as we must depend on ambulances coming from further intra-city territories, or from other municipalities, to cover the medical call. The impact of these shortages can be felt by anybody who may need an ambulance during these critical times. Nobody should find themselves in this type of situation. We as a City need to do more to protect our community.

If you support funding for a ninth ambulance, please consider contacting your alder to voice your opinion and encourage them to vote in favor of this budget amendment.

We can never predict when an emergency will happen to us, but everybody deserves a fast response and the appropriate level of emergency medical care when that moment comes.