A lack of advanced life support service, or ambulance service in Yellowstone county, has first responders concerned.

Fire Chief of Lockwood Fire District John Staley, calls it a national trend.

"That is what we are seeing is a significant amount of medical calls in Yellowstone County. It's 80% of our job and the fire service now has been medical responses," said Staley

Staley says it's difficult to budget and staff, with having only one ambulance staffed per day, although there is mutual aid between Lockwood and AMR.

Despite AMR's contract being with Billings, Staley says Lockwood, along with other municipalities in Yellowstone County are fortunate that AMR is able to send their resources. However, this only happens when they are not busy within the city of Billings.

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"What we're seeing now is they're not always available. It's not AMR's fault, it actually speaks more to the increase in call volume. So we back them up when we can, they back us up when they can but the only other two services; Laurel has a volunteer service that is at a first respondent level as does Warden and what we are seeing is a significant amount of their calls that are being asked to be responded by either AMR or Lockwood," said Staley.

Staley points out that a lot of this is due to high call volume for certain things that may not require an ambulance. Regardless, Staley also mentioned that despite the calls, it is their responsibility to send an ambulance if asked.

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Staley hopes this is an issue the county will look at and consider some change.

"This problem isn't short ranged, it isn't something that is going to hit a plateau and level out. It's going to keep increasing as the population increases as we add more people to Yellowstone County. My fear is, and it truly is my fear that we are going to have that call out in our county and there is no ambulance available," said Staley.

So what steps are taken to increase the number of ambulances and first respondents? Well, Chief Staley says it would be a process, but a proposal to the board members at a city hall meeting would be the first step.

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