The ambulance service was founded in 1973. Although initially privately owned, the City of Sparta eventually took over ownership, staffing the ambulance with off-duty police officers and volunteers from the community. Emergency Medical Training was then started, and the City of Sparta began negotiations with representative's of the surrounding townships for financial support, in order to create a "Municipal Ambulance Department."
As time went on, the ambulance workers became increasingly unhappy with the city's operation of the ambulance service, expected training and less than disrable wages. Meanwhile, the City of Sparta seemed undecided as what to do. There was little support for a Municipal Ambulance Service and thus several groups of concerned citizens and individuals were suggesting other plans of operation.
The City of Sparta had already been soliciting plans for operation, and one of those plans was submitted by Robert and Linda Hess. Robert and Linda Hess were notified by the City of Sparta that their plan was accepted on condition that they be operational on November 16, 1973. Robert and Linda Hess accepted the offer by the City of Sparta and thus started what is called today, the Sparta Area Ambulance Service, Ltd.
This plan accepted by the City of Sparta seemed simple: a joint Municipal - Private Ambulance Service. The Hess's would have a free hand in the day to day operation of the service, the city would provide the ambulance and equipment, and the ambulance service would be overseen by a committee composed of City and Township representatives who would provide the necessary support.
The plan looked good but a flaw became immediately obvious. The service had only one ambulance and the Hess's found themselves on duty for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with no backup personnel. Bob took his personal car to a local car dealer and traded it for a used station wagon. The Monroe County Traffic Police Department provided a used red light bar, the City of Sparta found an old police radio, and a cot was purchased from one of the previous ambulance service providers. Linda's old classmate and her husband took over as second call, a couple of the city police officers offered their assistance, and members of Bob's local National Guard Unit offered their support. Eventually an old ambulance was obtained through Army surplus and refurbished as a backup unit.
In October of 1974, the ambulance service was incorporated as the Sparta Area Ambulance Service, Ltd. This was done to limit the liability imposed upon Robert and Linda Hess and to separate business and personal interest's. In December 1974, the ambulance service had it's first real major trauma scene involving multiple vehicles and injuries. The two ambulance's and the Hess's station wagon were pressed into immediate service. The extrication, treatment, and transport of the injured was handled so well that the Monroe County Traffic Police discontinued their operation of station wagon ambulances and acknowledged their support for the newly formed, Sparta Area Ambulance Service, Ltd.
More townships and villages were quick to join the service area of the Sparta Area Ambulance Service, Ltd. The City of Sparta now became concerned that the rural area interests exceeded the city's interest. The problem of calls to non-member service area's surfaced while the repair and replacement of ambulance vehicles and equipment were the responsibility of the City of Sparta and this became an issue.
In 1977 the City of Sparta was looking for a way to obsolve itself of this ambulance service. Again, lack of support for a City owned ambulance service was lacking so the City of Sparta began accepting offer's of purchase for the service. Only two offers were made. One was from Tri-State Ambulance who offered to create a sub-station at Sparta for a determined set fee, payable by the City of Sparta. The other offer came from Robert and Linda Hess who offered to purchase the service and continue operation to the established service area. They requested only a small subsidy fee from the City of Sparta. The City of Sparta accepted the offer and turned the ownership of the service over to Robert and Linda Hess.
Today the Sparta Area Ambulance Service, Ltd. operates as an independent entity providing contract ambulance services to area communities and organizations. The service has the largest service population in Monroe County and has received commendations and awards from the State of Wisconsin Highway Safety Commission, Western Wisconsin Technical College, and the Hurst "Jaws of Life©" Company.