Big River Ambulance District History

Big River Ambulance District was formed by the Jefferson County Court in March of 1975. The boundaries were set up to include 125 square miles covering House Springs, Cedar Hill, Morse Mill, Ware, Grubville, Dittmer, and now Byrnes Mill.

Twenty three people had been enrolled since January 1975 in a Red Cross Advanced First Aid course held at the Presbyterian Church in Cedar Hill. Classes were held twice a week in the evenings from January until June of that year. After the students had successfully completed their Advanced First Aid training; Chapel Hill Mortuary, who at the time was running the only ambulance in the area, allowed the students to ride along and observe ambulance calls.

Even though the ambulance district had been formed by the Jefferson County Court in early 1975 and a tax levy had been approved by the people, there was no tax money to run the district. Original operating funds were from individual donations. The volunteers of the ambulance district went to area businesses and asked that they be allowed to put jars in the businesses for people to put money in. People would put in pennies, nickels, dollars, etc. The ambulance district literally was funded directly from people’s pockets for the first six months of its existence.

The original Board of Directors was elected on June 17, 1975 in a special election. They were Alice I. Lee, Bob Sandler, John M. Samuel, Jr., Jeanne Kriegesmann, Richard Ford, and Ronald Waller.

The Board of Directors that had been elected by the people set July 1, 1975 as the day they would start operation of the Big River Ambulance District.

The first ambulance was a 1975 Cadillac that had been donated by Chapel Hill Mortuary. They had also donated other such equipment such as stretchers, air splints, backboards, radios, etc.

Although Big River Ambulance started operation on July 1, 1975, there was no building to operate from. The first home was the garage basement of Mr. and Mrs. Doyle Ruble in Cedar Hill. It was located on Ficken Road. A telephone dispatch system was set up in the homes of three different people so that there would be someone monitoring a phone at all times. Our first three dispatchers were Jeanne Kriegesmann, Fran Ruble, and Mary Ann Theiss.

In early 1976, wanting to find a more permanent home, Big River Ambulance started looking for some ground to build on in Cedar Hill since it was more centrally located within the ambulance district boundaries. Also, in February of 1976 the first van ambulance was purchased. It was a 1975 Dodge and cost $14,200.

In April of 1976 Big River Ambulance took delivery of two 1975 Chevrolet van ambulances at a cost of $3,500.00 each. These ambulances were given to the ambulance district at such a low cost from the State of Missouri and the Federal Government through an ambulance purchase program.

A building was found that belonged to Union Electric but had been unused for several years. Union Electric allowed Big River Ambulance to use their building free of charge. The volunteers painted and remodeled the building. Big River Ambulance used this building for about 18 months, at which time the area of House Springs, Cedar Hill, and Dittmer had grown to a point where Union Electric needed the building for their own use; so Big River Ambulance was forced to find another headquarters.

At this time Mrs. Phil Schlecht volunteered the use of her building on Ridge Road so Big River Ambulance moved to that location in the fall of 1977.

Due to the distance the ambulance had to respond from we were unable to stay at this new location for very long. Within six months Big River Ambulance found a new location in the center of Cedar Hill. It was an old auto body garage that was rented to us for $150.00 per month.

At this time the Board of Directors felt that a permanent building was needed to house both the vehicles, equipment, and the administrative offices of the district. In 1978 the Board of Directors went for a vote of the people and requested a bond issue be passed to build a permanent headquarters for the ambulance district. By an overwhelming vote of the people, it was passed.

After this bond issue was passed the Board of Directors immediately began looking for ground centrally located within the ambulance district. An ideal location was found at our present location at Cedar Springs Road on Hwy 30. On December 11, 1978, Big River Ambulance moved into its permanent location. This is now known as 6321 Lorens Lane.

Shortly after moving into our new building Big River Ambulance started proceedings to become a state certified Emergency Medical Technician training center. Big River Ambulance was the first ambulance district to be certified as a training center by the state of Missouri.

Several EMT classes have been taught throughout the years but currently none are offered due to many factors. EMT and Paramedic students from several schools do still ride along with the district to observe and learn new skills.