Gull Lake’s First Ambulance.
By Craig Baird
The history of Gull Lake Ambulance is not a long one, in terms of the overall history of the town. For the longest period of time, up until 1975, the ambulance service need was filled by people who used their trucks and station wagons to transport people to the hospital. If time was not an important factor, then the Swift Current Ambulance was used.
Things changed in 1975 when Gull Lake purchased an ambulance from the Swift Current Union Hospital. This ambulance was a 1968 Dodge station wagon with a raised roof and it was operated by the Town of Gull Lake, with several local people volunteering their time as both drivers and attendants. In 1977, the vehicle was no longer up to the provincial standards and a new 1979 GMC Suburban High Rise was purchased in Saskatoon. The unit was used for the next six years. Up until 1985, the Town of Gull Lake, under Gull Lake Ambulance Board, provided the ambulance service on a volunteer basis. That changed when the Gull Lake Ambulance Board took over the operation.
The ambulance in those early days, while not always pressed into service, saw its share of significant events. It was the first ambulance on the scene of one of the worst highway accidents this area has ever seen, when a bus was involved in a collision that killed 22 people near Webb. In 1978, when a horrible blizzard was blowing in, it was necessary to get a patient to Swift Current Hospital. The ambulance left with two snowplows and a police car. A journey that typically takes 30 minutes took two hours, and, due to the horrible weather, the ambulance did not return until the following day, 23 hours after it left.
The Saskatchewan Government implemented the Ambulance Attendant Continuing Education Program in 1990, which required all attendants to have regular training to maintain their Provincial Licence. This led to a slow decline in volunteers over the next decade.
Three years later, the Rolling Hills Health District amalgamated with the Gull Lake Ambulance Service and many residents of Gull Lake worried about losing their ambulance. Several municipalities then came together, including Gull Lake, Pittville, Webb, Carmichael, and Tompkins, to form the Gull Lake and District Road Ambulance Corporation. One year later, after a lot of lobbying, the Saskatchewan Government returned ownership of the ambulance to the service.
Today, the ambulance service serves 2,200 people in an area covering 3,575 square kilometers. Each year, the ambulance receives roughly 170 to 190 calls. The ambulance service is now an integral part of our community, ensuring that a helping hand is not too far away.