The Oltmann family of Union that owns Oltmann’s Funeral Home was providing ambulance service for the Union, Villa Ridge and part of Gray Summit area starting in 1928. By the Spring of 1969 they were able to place three ambulances on the street when the calls came in. The staff for the ambulances were primarily members of the Oltmann family and a core group of part time staff that they could contact at home to respond to the funeral home and pick up an ambulance when the need arose.
February 1, 1969 a Federal Law suit was won in which ambulance workers were entitled to a minimum wage when on call at their homes. This suit had far reaching financial indications for small funeral home-based ambulance services. During the same time, a bill was proposed in the Missouri legislature that required minimum standards for ambulance equipment and personnel. This cost could be a much as $7,000 per ambulance.
The Meramec Valley Funeral Directors Association informed Franklin County Administrative Court that they were getting out of the ambulance business on July 1, 1969. When this decision was made, E.F. “Pop” Oltmann and his son Ralph approached a group of community minded citizens and offered to donate their entire ambulance business to this group of volunteers including some of Oltmann’s part-time staff and several members of the Union Volunteer Fire Department if they would take responsibility of providing this service.
The formation of the Union Community Ambulance Service was created around the kitchen table at the Oltmann home. With the expertise of the original members; Leroy Strubberg, Don Wilmesher, Gene Crews, Dave Schink, Pat Nappier, Gene Wissmann and Bob Mittler, they were able to recruit additional members within weeks for the formation of the service.
The Oltmann Family donated a 1963 Cadillac and a 1966 Ford Station Wagon and all of the equipment with a value of over $6,000 to the newly formed ambulance service. For the first few months, the ambulances were continued housed next to the funeral home. Later in 1969, the service was stationed rent free out of the old Sinclair gas station that was located near Hwy 50 and Springfield in Union. With fund raisers and some arm twisting the group was able to purchase a 1969 Chevy Suburban ambulance that they could transport four patients laying down in. Within a few months, the new ambulance services were tested with the bombing of the Court House in Union. Ambulances came from as far as Marthasville to assist and showed that these groups could work together.
In 1971, with funds and labor donated by the community and members of the ambulance service a building was built on the North West corner of Locust and Linden Street after the City of Union donated the property. Money was raised from an auction of item donated by citizens around Union.
In 1973, legislation was enacted to create a taxing district for the purpose to supporting the administration of ambulance services. 1974, members of the Union Community Ambulance Service placed the question of the ballot which passed creating the Union Ambulance District.
1976 saw the beginning of advanced training in pre-hospital care with 3 members of the Ambulance District becoming Mobile Emergency Medical Technicians (Paramedics) with John Devos being the first licensed “Paramedic” in Franklin County. Later that year, the District hired a full-time paramedic and a full-time paramedic first responder.
1977 saw the purchase of the first cardiac monitor and an increase in advanced training of staff with the first Pre-Hospital Protocols being issued in late 1978.
By 1986, the Union Ambulance District outgrew their location and purchased the old City Fire Station at 24 Church Street. This gave the District the additional space for education, living quarters, business office and space to update the fleet of ambulances.
1997 saw the construction of Union Ambulance District House #1 located at 211 South Church Street. By this time, the district and crews worked 24 hour shifts requiring sleeping quarters, a kitchen and living area. Later in 2008, House # 2 was constructed at 1757 Old Hwy 50 East of Union to reduce the response time to residents on the east end of Union’s District. Property was donated to the District at Hwy 50 and BB for a proposed House #3 in the future.
Currently the Ambulance District staffs 3 full-time crews 24 hours a day with leadership from Chief Michelle Mayer.