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Training Regimen

The History of Willmar Ambulance Service

Willmar Ambulance Service began as a part of Peterson Brothers Funeral Home. The original vehicle shape of the ambulances started out as larger-sized cars looking similar to station wagons and funeral hearses.

Just prior to 1966, the Willmar Police Department began the responsibilities of running the ambulance service. The ambulance service at that time was Basic Life Support (BLS).

The chief of police designated a person to be in charge of the ambulance program. In 1966, Roger Klinghagen joined the Willmar Police Department and was assigned the responsibility for maintaining and outfitting the ambulances for the police department in addition to his other police duties. Officer Klinghagen maintained the ambulance assignment for 28 years until 1995.

The first ambulance used by the police department was an oversized Cadillac. The ambulance fleet was eventually increased to two vehicles. Ambulances and equipment were stored at the Willmar Police Department in a garage which was part of the Law Enforcement Center. The building is now part of the Kandiyohi County Attorney's Office.

The ambulances changed in size and appearance due to equipment that officers were required to carry in them. When an ambulance call came in, an accident for example, the police on duty would drive to the Police Department, transfer from their squad car to an ambulance, then head to the accident scene. They would take care of immediate medical needs at the scene, then transport the patient to Rice Memorial Hospital.

The officers then cleaned up the truck, changed out the linen, and drove the ambulance back to the police station. They'd then get back into their squad car and head over to the accident scene for the second time to begin the accident investigation and scene clean up. All officers were required to maintain an Emergency Medical Technician licensure status.

In 1995, the Willmar Police Department transferred the operation of Willmar Ambulance services to Rice Hospital. A garage was built and the ambulances became housed at their current location at the corner of Becker Avenue and 2nd Street SW.

For a short time, Klinghagen remained in charge of the ambulances while they were housed at the new location. He was responsible for developing and maintaining the Ambulance Reserve personnel, who took on a much larger share of ambulance calls. This relieved the officers from taking ambulance calls while on duty. As the reserve system developed, individual officers became less connected to the ambulance system. However, in the early stages many of the ambulance reserve members were police officers who supplemented their police income with ambulance runs on their days off.

In 1995, Willmar Ambulance changed from BLS to Advanced Life Support Paramedic Service. Full-time EMT-paramedics were added to the reserve (casual) staff.

In 2005, Willmar Ambulance Service paramedics achieved the Critical Care Certification from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County Department of Emergency Health Services.


Related stories and photos

Early version of Willmar Ambulance emblem

Willmar Man to head Minnesota Ambulance Group

Willmar Ambulance at 26

April 17, 1969
New police ambulance arrives

Willmar Police Department Annual Report cover

January 8, 1975
Roger Klinghagen wins police promotion

Willmar Police Department Annual Report cover

May 14, 1994
Emergency Medical Services Week

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