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Michigan Ambulance Service set to close as nearby towns step in to help

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MICHIGAN, N.D. - A life-saving service will soon close in Michigan, North Dakota.

Managers say there aren't enough hands on deck to handle emergencies.

People in Michigan, North Dakota say they need their ambulance service, it’s been around for decades.

"We have a 21-year-old disabled son who has cerebral palsy,” said Vickie January, a mom local to the town.

With constant seizures, Vickie January's son needs immediate emergency care.

"The doctors already told us that if he has one too many he won't come out of it. I mean each time he has them now, they just get worse and worse,” Vickie said.

But with the city ambulance service set to close this Christmas, she’s one of many people in town fearing the worst.

"I know several of them around here that actually need it. Like him over here he just had stents put in and he can barely breathe when he's out walking say if he falls down. There's a lot of elderly people in this town that need it,” Vickie said.

WDAY News has learned the ambulance service has struggled for years to get EMTs and drivers.

Right now there are three people working to save lives.

In order to stay open, they'd need another eight EMTs and as many as eight drivers.

"I have several members who have 20, 25, 30, 35 years of service already in. That's a long time for a volunteer service,” said Jason Flom, with the Michigan Ambulance Service.

As people commute out of town for work, there are fewer available helping hands.

EMTs also have to be allowed to leave their jobs at a moment's notice, something that's keeping people from stepping up.

"The businesses just can't let somebody go during the day. It's their bottom line also. So it's definitely a people issue,” Flom said.

Paramedics from Lakota and Larimore more than 16 miles away, will likely take over.

That travel time is a luxury Vickie January says people don't have.

"Well it's very important for the response time. If they shut the ambulance place down here then we'd have to wait,” Vickie said.

But the ambulance manager says people are already waiting.

"There are going to be times that might happen. There are times now that that happens. Just because one of our EMTs comes from 12 miles out of town to cover,” Flom said.

With so few helping hands, he says people in town should learn CPR and how to use an AED--but families like the January family worry it won’t be enough.

"Just please keep it. I wish I could work on it and everything else but I can't with him. He's 24/7 care,” Vickie said.

A town hoping to keep their ambulance service.

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