THE HISTORY OF NORTHWEST AMBULANCE DISTRICT
Prior to 1975, emergency ambulance service was provided to Geneva area residents by one or more private enterprise ambulance services. In 1974, political officials from Austinburg Township, Harpersfield Township, Geneva Township, and Geneva City met and agreed to form an ambulance district. A tax levy was placed on the ballot and approved by the voters of the communities comprising the proposed ambulance district. On April 1, 1975, the Northwest Ambulance District (NAD) began to provide 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, emergency ambulance service to all residents of the ambulance district.
Originally, the ambulance district was administered under the auspices of the Ashtabula County Commissioners in conjunction with the board of directors of Northwest Ambulance District. The board of directors was comprised of one appointed official from each taxing subdivision. The daily operation of the ambulance became the responsibility of the Ashtabula County Sheriff's Department. Two ambulances were assigned to the Northwest Ambulance District and were staffed by one deputy sheriff and one emergency medical technician. These two ambulances performed a dual function; primarily, responding to emergency ambulance calls as needed and secondarily, by providing additional law enforcement protection to the communities in the district. The ambulances patrolled the more than 70 square miles of roadway in the ambulance district answering complaints, checking businesses, and enforcing the law. These duties became secondary in importance at such time that an emergency ambulance call was received within the district. The ambulances were radio-equipped and were dispatched from the Ashtabula County Sheriff's Department in Jefferson.
In September 1977, six emergency medical technicians were enrolled in the State Certified Paramedic Program at Brown Memorial Hospital in Conneaut and graduated in June 1978 as Emergency Medical Technician-Paramedics. Advanced life support equipment was purchased by the ambulance district in the fall of 1978. One of the patrolling ambulances became a fully staffed and equipped paramedic unit. In the ensuing years, many more emergency medical technicians were certified as paramedics thereby continually upgrading the quality of care provided.
By 1979 it had become obvious that the system of patrolling ambulances was far too expensive to maintain. Vehicles costing nearly $40,000 were mechanically undependable at the end of one year of patrolling. Also, the CETA program funding was dramatically reduced. The monies generated by the next tax levies were not sufficient to continue the patrolling ambulance service. In February 1979, both ambulances in the district were removed from their patrolling law enforcement duties and places on permanent stationary duty. They were now staffed only by emergency medical technicians and paramedics and no longer provided any law enforcement services. One ambulance and its staff were stationed at Memorial Hospital of Geneva. The second ambulance and crew were stationed at the Harpersfield Fire Station #1. The personnel from both ambulances were moved to a 24-hour on/48-hour off shift.
While planning the 1980 budget, the Board of Directors of the Northwest Ambulance District was informed that the CETA program had been reduced even further. The existing tax levies did not generate enough revenue to support the operation of two fully staffed and equipped ambulances. Therefore, further reductions became necessary. The ambulance which had been stationed at Memorial Hospital of Geneva was removed from full time service and parked in storage. Some staff members returned to full time employment as deputy sheriffs with the Ashtabula County Sheriff's Department. Two personnel were laid off. These changes transpired in January 1980. Beginning in February 1980, the ambulance district was staffed by seven full time paramedics; three shifts consisting of two paramedics and one administrator. These personnel and their one ambulance remained stationed at the Harpersfield Fire Department #1. A volunteer auxiliary was formed and emergency medical technicians were trained to respond and staff the second ambulance parked in storage if needed. Continued budget constraints remained a problem.
In March 1983, the administrator resigned to accept another out-of-state position. The Board of Directors then appointed a new administrator from the existing staff who continued to work on a 24-hour shift basis, thereby reducing the staff from seven to six full time employees.
Since 1975, the District has been made up of the City of Geneva, Geneva Township, Harpersfield Township, and Austinburg Township. On December 30, 2006, Trumbull Township and the NAD Board of Directors agreed that Trumbull was going to become part of the Northwest Ambulance District. This made Trumbull Township the first new entity in 31 years. The new addition added another 25 square miles to the District equaling a total of 100 square miles of coverage.
The Northwest Ambulance District continues to provide 24-hour emergency care in the form of Advanced Life Support. The service operates with a full time staff of seven paramedics and is augmented by a well trained, very active volunteer auxiliary. There are 33 members on our auxiliary, comprised of both EMTs and Paramedics.