RAPID CITY, S.D. (KELO) — Ambulance Transport Services with the Rapid City Fire Department have been serving the community for twenty years. As the area has grown, so has the department and EMS.

Rapid City’s fire department took on ambulance services in 2003. At the time, the department had about 6 ambulances. Now, the paramedics have 14 of them.

“During these last 20 years, we have had a lot of growth, we’ve had a lot of positions we had to add to our department. Not to mention, countless hours of training and recertification and making sure that we have the best equipment and the best vehicles that we can have to provide that service,” Brent Long, Division Chief of Ambulance Operations, said.

Denise Rossum is the fire department’s Patient Billing Services Manager and was around when the first emergency calls came in. She says it was a very exciting day, and a busy one.

“There were only two of us in that billing office and we listened to the calls as they came and we knew that the next day our paperwork would arrive and from that moment on, it’s been busy and things never did slow down after that,” Rossum said.

Back in 2003 when the ambulance services first started with the Rapid City Fire Department. The busiest station got about 8 to 10 calls a day. Today, that number has almost doubled.

Brent Long is the fire department’s Division Chief of Ambulance Operations. He says he is proud to see the growth of the ambulance services over the last two decades.

“We don’t use tax dollars to do this so it’s whatever we can do to collect from our service to keep us alive, and it’s working,” Long said.

In 2003, the Rapid City Fire Department was made up of about 90 personnel. Today that number has grown to about 145.

“Well, the emergency services have grown and changed and resources have been added and it’s incredible to the dedication to the community and see how everything has evolved to bring in the new services to be able to provide the best service we can,” Rossum said.

Since then, the department has built many relationships with the Rapid City community, including Monument Health Hospital.

“It really doesn’t seem like it’s been that long. We were just talking about how we remember the first day that they took over the service and they came in. So it’s cool that we have that small community with the tight-knit relationships and there are still lots of us here that were here when this transition happened,” Jennifer Murray, Dir. of Emergency Dept. at Monument Health, said.

By working closely together, the hospital and ambulance services are able to provide the community with the emergency care it needs.

“We work together on a lot of things. Obviously, they are our primary EMS service in our area so we went through COVID together, practices that we would both be utilizing how they bring the patients in and how we would receive them. They were with us when we had our construction project,” Murray said.

With a supportive community, loyal employees and great leaders, the department is hopeful for the future.

“Right now the sky is the limit. We are finally starting to get some traction with some of the bills that are going through out in Pierre right now, getting some of the retirement stuff to try to attract more people to come into the EMS field, changing how we are able to collect some of the revenue so we are able to keep ambulances open is the biggest part,” Long said.

“I look forward to the next 20 years being the same, to grow and to evolve,” Rossum said.

In honor of the 20th anniversary, the Rapid City Fire Department and Ambulance Services held a celebratory press conference. Crews wore blue t-shirts with the logo that read, “20 Years of Dedication.”