NAFRS drops ambulance license; Age Friendly Northfield publishes Health & Wellness Survey results; City conducting rental owner survey –

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The Northfield Area Fire and Rescue Service is out of the ambulance business.
Interim Fire Chief Tom Nelson said during the latest round of budget talks, and after a substantial amount of thought and conversation, the decision was made to let NAFRS’ ambulance license go.
The license dates back at least forty years to a time when the ambulance service was high quality but limited in capacity.
“Sometimes we’d be ‘tap dancing’ a little bit, waiting for the ambulance,” said Nelson. “You’d be there thinking ‘Okay, this guy has got to get to the hospital.’” So, the decision was made to apply for an ambulance license to enhance the service already being provided.
That assistance is no longer necessary, and Nelson said the decision was actually a relatively easy one. The ambulance service run by Northfield Hospital, which is the same service that was run by Fred Heil for decades, has evolved into a highly efficient operation that employs paramedics, and therefore offers a higher level of care than the Fire and Rescue Service does. In fact, Nelson pointed out, the NAFRS Ambulance Service took exactly one person to the hospital over the last twelve months, and that was due to a severe weather situation.
Another reason to not renew the license is in the managing the workload of paid on-call first responders. According to Nelson, reporting requirements have increased quite a bit over the years and have hampered the Rescue Service’s ability to meet the rest of its responsibilities.
Nelson said he doesn’t think the Northfield area will even notice the absence of a NAFRS ambulance.
“It isn’t going to change our level of care. We’re still going to respond, but we’re going to more focus on core competencies, which is heavy rescue. So, the community isn’t going to notice a thing. What it’s going to do is make us more efficient, and we won’t filling out forms for patients we maybe don’t even touch.”
Nelson was quick to point out that the department had been in consultation with the Northfield Hospital Ambulance Service, and the decision was made knowing the hospital can handle whatever comes their way.
Jeff Johnson’s full conversation with NAFRS Interim Chief Tom Nelson and Board Chair Paul Liebenstein can be heard here
Age Friendly Northfield touting online Resource Guide
Age Friendly Northfield is issuing a report on the results of the Health and Wellness Survey the organization took at the beginning of the year.
Nancy Just, a member of the Age Friendly Northfield Steering Committee said they have gleaned valuable information from the survey regarding the types of services that are under-represented in the community.
The biggest issue, she said, is transportation. Northfield is in need of more transportation that can work door-to-door. Too often, she said, older adults with mobility problems are forced to get to a bus stop in order to pick up a ride or catch a bus, and that is something the organization is hoping to change.
There is also a need for what Just called Chore & Homemaker services. That category can include yard work, shoveling and plowing, meal preparation, laundry and much more. Just said Northfield is lacking in the availability of those services.
She said there is also a need for support groups for care givers, especially for those dealing with memory care. Sometimes there is a need for more information, she said, and sometimes they are simply looking to compare notes with other caregivers experiencing similar situations.
Perhaps the biggest problem, she said, is that many people do not know how to find or access the services that are available in the area. Age Friendly Northfeld has published a Resource Guide for this express purpose, containing an exhaustive amount of information. The published booklets can sometimes be hard to find because they are printed in small batches but Just said there are other ways for the public to find the information, starting with the Age Friendly Northfield website.
“It is a very good resource. It’s always a challenge to get information out into the community that people can readily access and use. It is out online, and we want people to know more about how to access that.”
Just said the organization is looking to address the needs expressed in the survey, beginning with transportation, and help in doing so is always welcome.
For more information on Age Friendly Northfield, how to volunteer or to find the Resource Guide, visit
Jeff Johnson’s full conversation with Nancy Just and Rice County Habitat for Humanity’s Dayna Norvold, both of the Age Friendly Northfield Steering Committee, can be heard here
City looking for more information on rents within the area
The City of Northfield is asking local rental owners and property managers to complete a data survey about their rental property, in order to help with affordable housing in Northfield.
The intent of the survey is to gather data to support an effort to adopt Small Area Fair Market Rents (SAFMR) for the City of Northfield.
An announcement on the city website said, because Northfield-area rents and housing costs are on par with metropolitan communities north of Rice County, the current practice of using Rice County Fair Market Rents may be artificially limiting the number of available affordable rental units in the community.
The survey poses 16 questions to owners and managers. It goes through the types of property they own or manage, how many properties, the size of the properties, and the rental rate that they charge. There are questions about offered amenities, appliances, and the number of bathrooms in each building or unit.
There are also questions about when it is appropriate to raise the rent, the criteria used in making that decision, and the methods used in determining the market value of a property.
The city has made recruiting more developers to build affordable housing in the community a top priority. In the past attracting those developers to build in the area has been difficult because there is a perception, which may or may not be legitimate, that it makes more economic sense to build in the Twin Cities area where the property values are higher.
For more information or to take the survey, click here.
Rich Larson is the KYMN News Director. Contact him at
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