The Bayfield-Ashland Counties EMS Council history begins in 1983 when the Northwest Regional EMS Council was disbanded. The Northwest Regional EMS Council had been organized and supported with federal grant funds. When the grant funds were no longer available, Wisconsin chose not to continue funding regional EMS Councils. The eight Bayfield County ambulance services felt the need to continue meeting and so organized the Bayfield County EMS Council. The minutes of that organization illustrate their commitment to ongoing communications and sharing of resources.
In February of 1987, a committee of the EMS Council was appointed to work toward a stable statewide funding source for EMS. The committee first needed to educate state representatives and legislators about EMS. They met with legislators, learned about the legislative process, worked with a local representative, prepared draft legislation and saw it proposed to the Legislative Reference Bureau. The Council and committee followed the legislation closely, enlisting assistance from a statewide EMS group, the Wisconsin Emergency Medical Technician Association (WEMTA), in order to provide support and accurate dissemination of information statewide.
Several services from Ashland County joined Bayfield County in these legislative efforts. In September of 1988, the Bayfield County EMS Council voted to rename the Council the Bayfield-Ashland Counties EMS Council (BAC-EMS) and expanded their membership to include the four ambulance providers within Ashland County. Council members continued to support the proposed legislation through attendance at legislative committee meetings, public hearings, and meetings with individual legislators and learned the importance of communicating their concerns at both the state and local levels.
Due to the efforts of EMS personnel throughout the state of Wisconsin, AB 429 passed unanimously in both houses of State government and was enacted as ACT 102 in December of 1989. This bill appropriated 2.2 million dollars for training and education of Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) and grants to local ambulance service providers (a base of $3558 plus three cents per capita) for equipment, supplies, training, etc. Unfortunately, funding for state level staff and programs was deleted through the legislative process. This program has become know as the Funding Assistance Program. It is unfortunate that only 18% of the dollars allocated to EMS statewide through this program is going to the rural areas of the state.
Following the efforts and success with this process, the Bayfield-Ashland Counties EMS Council was named EMS Organization of the Year by the Wisconsin Emergency Medical Technicians Association annual conference in January of 1990. The EMS Council was also recognized at the Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College Emergency Services Conference for their advocacy on behalf of northwestern Wisconsin EMS in March of 1990.