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Three members of the original ambulance staff are (from left) Lloyd Lindquist, Charlotte Curtis and John Backdahl. - photo by Bill Monroe
This is the original Crosslake ambulance. It was a used vehicle that was red when it was purchased and painted white and re-lettered with the Crosslake Ambulance logo. - photo submitted

Remembering the original Crosslake Ambulance Service

Web posted July 10, 2018
By Bill Monroe, Northland Press Correspondent

Crosslake area residents currently enjoy the protection of a local ambulance service that stands ready to assist them quickly in any medical emergency. But that has not always been the case. Up until 1974 ambulances had to be summoned from other communities to transport Crosslake residents to hospitals.

In 1973 a group of volunteers decided to create an ambulance service here. The first thing they had to do was to become certified by taking first aid classes. Then they had to raise money to build a garage to house an ambulance by the old firehouse which is where the ambulance is currently located today.

By the fishing opener in 1974 Crosslake had its own ambulance service. More than 20 volunteers were on hand to make it work. They were paid $10 per run and took turns making runs on a rotation basis. After each run, the next driver in line would keep the ambulance.

A separate phone line was installed in each volunteer's home. This “red line” was used only for ambulance calls. A special red line phone was also installed in the ambulance itself. When a volunteer had possession of the ambulance that person was on call 24 hours at a time.

From 1975 to 1979 the call system changed. Jan Mezzenga took all calls between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. and volunteers handled calls the rest of the time.

In May of 1975 the service boasted its first Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and although the service was more professional the ever-increasing number of volunteer hours took its toll on the volunteers as their ranks began to shrink.

In the early 1980’s Bob Garin took over the service five days a week with volunteers handing the duties on weekends. In 1987, the City of Crosslake signed an agreement with the North Memorial Ambulance Service that has served the city since then.

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