The townships of Bungo, Deerfield, Bull Moose and McKinley may see up to an 8% increase in their contract for emergency medical services and fire coverage from Backus crews.

Fire Chief Jason Smith told the Backus City Council on Monday, Jan. 4, that 2020 was a record year for EMS calls with an inordinate number of those calls being to the four townships named above. Though those townships have among the lowest contract prices currently, the number of ATV crashes, car crashes, search and rescues, and medicals has increased significantly over the years.

Smith said they had 100 more medicals than the previous year, in part because of the number of cabins that have suddenly become year-round cabins.

Bungo Township represents the worst increase in services. Spider Lake is in Bungo Township, as are the increasingly popular all terrain vehicle trails there. Those trails have always been a hot spot of crashes and injuries that require calls to the fire department and EMS.

The Backus Fire Department had 53 fire calls in 2020 with six of those occurring in Bungo Township, which, Smith noted, is a long drive away.

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"With six fire calls there, $2,800 isn't going to cover the manpower," Smith said.

Council member Karl Flier asked if there were alternatives to increasing the contract fees given that some of those involved in the incidents might not be taxpayers in the county. One suggestion was to bill those involved in crashes there.

Smith said he will look into that option but he feels uncomfortable sending a bill to someone who might already be paying for medical treatment, given that insurance for ATVs might not cover medical fees the way car accidents do.

The council agreed to review the possible increase ahead of the February meeting, at which time they should have numbers comparing the current contract fees with the proposed fees.

In other business Monday, the council:

  • Agreed to delay naming a city attorney until further information can be determined involving a price.
  • Approved a contract for airport engineering services from Short Elliott Hendrickson engineering firm.

Travis Grimler may be reached at 218-855-5853 or Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at