In November of 1973, Rick Zehetner founded a new private ambulance service on Milwaukee’s Northwest side, along with two partners. Due to Rick’s knowledge and experience, the new ambulance service was immediately successful.
During 1975 there was much discussion in the community as to what direction the City of Milwaukee should take regarding provision of ambulance service; because of the new Federal ambulance standards, the old Police ambulance had to go. In October Rick presented a proposal for the City to license and regulate private ambulance service providers so that they could participate in the City’s new EMS system. The proposal called for the Milwaukee Fire Department Rescue Squads and engine companies to be first responders, calling in the licensed private ambulance service to make the conveyance.
The proposal went nowhere!
On January 1st, 1976 Rick and his partners bought a competitor, Bell Ambulance, and ran it as a separate business on the Southwest side of Milwaukee.
During 1976 and 1977 Rick had a series of meetings with Milwaukee Health Commissioner Dr. Constantine Panagis and Common Council President John Kalwitz to discuss private ambulance participation in the City EMS System. They liked his plan, and recommended it to the Common Council and to Mayor Henry Maier.
On January 1st, 1977 Rick bought his partners’ interest in Bell Ambulance, and became the sole owner. Bell had a rented station and an office at 57th and National Avenue; our entire fleet consisted of two 1976 Dodge vans and one 1977 Dodge van!
In the fall of 1977, Rick’s idea for private ambulance participation in the Milwaukee EMS System was adopted by City ordinance. On January 1st, 1978, the new Milwaukee EMS System with Private Ambulance Participation became effective, with Bell Ambulance as one of the inaugural licensed participants.
Since then Bell Ambulance has been working closely with The Milwaukee Fire Department to provide high quality, efficient and cost-effective EMS service to the citizens of Milwaukee! In the last several years this relationship has become a true partnership, focusing more on patient outcomes, and ignoring petty rivalries.
Since then… We have grown from rented quarters on the Southwest side, to nine modern locations in Milwaukee and Waukesha Counties. Bell Station #3, at Vel R. Phillips Avenue and Walnut Street in Milwaukee is the largest ambulance station in Wisconsin, with a capacity of 24 ambulances.
Since then… We have grown from three van ambulances to a fleet of 65 late model ambulances, all custom designed and built to our specifications.
Since then… We have grown from doing predominantly non-emergency transports to providing BLS emergency and non-emergency private and 911 transports; to providing ALS Paramedic emergency and non-emergency transports; to providing service to the Children’s Wisconsin Critical Care transport team; to becoming the largest Critical Care Paramedic transport service in the state!
Since then… We have grown from one dispatcher to as many as seven on duty at once. Our dispatchers staffing our new dispatch center at Station #1 have been certified and accredited by the International Academy of Emergency Dispatch as EMD. This assures that each request for emergency service is properly handled and coordinated.
Since then… We have grown to become the largest ambulance provider in the State of Wisconsin, with more than 400 employees, answering more than 100,000 calls for ambulance service each year.
We have grown... because we strive to exceed every client’s expectations.
We have grown... because we provide the best service, with the best equipment, and the best people!