Paramedic Funding Challenge

 The City’s current level of paramedic service provided by the fire department has been a major asset for the community, enabling rapid-response for residents facing emergencies and medical issues.

A reduction in paramedic staff could double or even quadruple emergency response times and would likely require relying on neighboring municipalities such as the City of Milwaukee or Oak Creek for paramedic services (calls that require advanced levels of care). Each additional minute of response time is directly related to patient outcomes.

In order to preserve locally provided paramedic services, the City must take action this year to secure alternative funding.

  • Over the last 15 years, decreased funding from Milwaukee County and other budget challenges have created an annual shortfall in South Milwaukee’s paramedic services budget. The City has used reserve funds and made other budget cuts to accommodate the shortfall.
  • Starting in 2018 there will no longer be reserve funds available to maintain the current level of paramedic services and county revenue will continue to decline over the next 10 years.


In the past, the City has been able to use surplus funds (i.e. Fund Balance ) to maintain paramedic/advanced life support (ALS) services. Starting in 2018, the City’s fund balance will no longer be available. Over the next 10 years, funding from Milwaukee County will be reduced by an additional 62%.

The result is a funding gap (Budget Shortfall), which will be nearly $250,000 in 2018 and double to more than $583,000 in 2027. The total projected paramedic/advanced life support (ALS) services budget shortfall between 2018-2027 will exceed $4.1 million.

The City must take action this year to secure alternative funding that will preserve high-quality paramedic service.

 Fire Department/Emergency Medical Services Background Information

 The City of South Milwaukee (the City) emergency medical services (EMS) and fire suppression services are currently provided by the South Milwaukee Fire Department and include:

  • Basic Life Support (BLS): Bleeding control, CPR, treatment of shock and poisoning, stabilization of traumatic injuries and first aid.
  • Paramedic/Advanced Life Support (ALS): Pre-hospital emergency care using invasive life-saving procedures, such as intravenous fluids, administration of medications and advanced airway procedures.
  • Fire/Service Responses: Emergency fire calls, automatic fire alarms, investigations (carbon monoxide alarms, natural gas leaks, smell of smoke, electrical issues), open burning complaints, motor vehicle crashes, elevator emergencies and Lake Michigan water emergencies.
  • Non-emergency Inspection and Community Support: State-mandated fire inspections, public education events, smoke detector installations, training as well as equipment, vehicle and facility maintenance.The number of calls for fire and EMS continues to grow, with 3,270 total calls for service in 2016, up nearly 12% over the last five years.


YEAR Total
EMS Calls
Fire / Service Calls TOTAL CALL VOLUME
2012 2,522 970 757 410 2,931
2013 2,523 1,356 737 346 2,869
2014 2,507 1,200 824 420 2,927
2015 2,638 1,214 791 409 3,047
2016 2,777 1,318 814 493 3,270


The City’s current service level allows for a rapid-response for residents facing emergencies and/or medical issues. In fact, the average response time in the City is 2 minutes, 39 seconds.