Ambulance service in the Kelvington area started in November of 1978 as a division of Shamrock Ambulance Care Ltd. which provided service from three bases to the communities of Wadena, Foam Lake, Kelvington, and the surrounding areas. Vernon Lowey was hired to operate the ambulance in Kelvington and he attended one of the first Emergency Medical Technician courses to be held in Saskatchewan. The first ambulance was a blue 1976 Mercury stationwagon which was often mistaken for a police cruiser when viewed from the front. Vernon’s wife, Carol, typically cared for the patient in the ambulance during transport. Even though regulations of the day did not require an attendant to be present, Vernon and Carol felt that this was an unsafe practice and took steps to ensure there was always someone to sit with the patient at all times. Occasionally they would press one of their three sons into service if the situation demanded.
Communications during those early days were limited to short range VHF radios and land line telephones so the dedication of responders also included the requirement for at least one person to remain near a phone 24 hours a day. Vernon and Carol also held down full time day jobs while working for the ambulance service and often had to close up shop to respond to emergencies or patient transfers. Being the only ambulance crew on call 24 hours a day was a stressful yet rewarding lifestyle for the entire family. Vernon and Carol’s sons all undertook EMT training at one point or another. Kevin in 1980, Carol and Daryl in the same class in 1981, and Trevor took weekend classes during his senior year of high school in 1985.
In June of 1983 the owner of Shamrock Ambulance had decided to make a change and sold his company, Vernon and Carol felt that this was the right time to go into business themselves and purchased the Kelvington division from their old boss. The following year they decided that 5 years of dedicated 24 hour a day service was long enough and they hired two part time employees to help, one of these employees is still working to this day.
In 1985 a second ambulance was added to the company to enable occasional multiple responses and uninterrupted service during vehicle maintenance and a third ambulance was added in 1991. In 1993 the first paramedic was introduced to the Kelvington area and has provided uninterrupted service since.
In 1999 Vernon retired from providing front line response and turned day to day operations over to his son Trevor. His years of dedication were recognised by the Governor General of Canada when he and Carol were presented with the Exemplary Service Medal in the fall of 2001. Although Carol retired in 2010 after 32 years of dedicated service to the residents of Kelvington she retains her registration as an EMT and continues to play an active role behind the scenes.
Ownership of Kelvington Ambulance Care Ltd. changed hands in 2005 when Trevor and Tammy Lowey purchased the operation from his parents and began adapting the organisation to follow the Mobile Health Services model rather than the Emergency Medical Response system that had been active to that point. Currently, the staff of Kelvington Mobile Health Services has a full time compliment of three Primary Care Paramedics, two Intermediate Care Paramedics, and two Advanced care Paramedics. Additional part time staff is also available to assist as necessary. Statistically, Kelvington MHS conducts about 350 calls and travels over 60,000 kms annually.