Manteca District Ambulance — that started in 1951 as a $2 a year subscription ambulance service — is still going strong as one of the few remaining non-profit ambulance firms in California.
MDA serving Manteca and Lathrop continues to grow under the leadership of CEO Bill Caldera, general manager Jonathan Mendoza and board president Brenda Franklin.
“This place has been my rock for 37 years and counting – both in Manteca and in Tuolumne County,” Caldera said.
Caldera joined the MDA staff in 1981 after ambulance manager Bob Madoski left and Dana Solomon was hired.
“We didn’t have volunteers then, just me, Dana and a couple of guys,” Caldera said.
He noted when the Highway 120 Bypass first opened there were multiple fatal crashes in the first year including one involving a 19-year-old former schoolmate he will never forget.
In the first three years of the 120 Bypass there were 86 fatal crashes reported – 20 in the first year alone.
Caldera lauded manager Jonathan Mendoza for his talent and being a good choice to run the Manteca regional operation.
The ambulance company launched in 1951 with $2 contributions for an ambulance ride anywhere in the region. In 2017, MDA handled 10,672 calls from its four stations. Medic 50 was the first ambulance out from the Center Street Station with 3,028 runs. Medic 53 was the second ambulance to be dispatched from Center Street for a total of another 2,957 calls. The Lathrop station logged 2,183 calls and the newest Ted Poulos station on Airport Way north of Lathrop Road had 2,137 dispatches during that year, Caldera said. MDA also contracts to run the Tuolumne County ambulance service.
There are two new Type 2 Mercedes ambulance vans being delivered in six weeks that will rotate out two ambulances now in service. Caldera said the Mercedes vehicles have proven to hold up better than other emergency vehicles they have used in past years. The cost of the six-cylinder turbo engine vehicles is about $120,000 with the additional medical equipment costing another $85,000. The MDA operates with eight vehicles.
The base rate for the ambulance is $2,619 which compares with the cost of medical transportation multiplied to similar cost of living over the 32 years, Caldera noted.
In the case of Medicare, they only allow for $470; MediCal will pay only $119, Caldera said. The school district is not charged for the CPR classes the medics put on for students, however they do charge for game coverage but only the cost of paying the ambulance crews mainly at football games for being on stand-bye.
In 1985 the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors established a base rate for emergency calls at $120. A charge of $37 was added for emergency night calls, $23 for oxygen and $7 for mileage. The advanced life support services ranged from $225 in Ripon to $310 in Tracy.
Manteca Ambulance is currently putting together a “Stop the Bleed” student seminar to address the possibility of active shooter situations in the schools and teaching the importance of stopping the bleeding of victims with tourniquets that can save lives.
He lauded the effort of Jennifer Munday of Tenet Corporation at Doctors Medical Center in Modesto who is researching the program to get Manteca Ambulance staff the necessary skill sets.
“When you see a shooting victim down with the loss of a pint of blood – don’t hesitate on a tourniquet or they are going to die,” he said.
“The thing about this job doesn’t give you time to ponder,” Caldera added.
Caldera proudly noted that Manteca Ambulance made 95 percent of its calls within the required time frame not to be fined by the county.
Franklin noted that the board, staff and all the paramedics and EMTs are giving good service to the community. The six-member board includes Franklin, president; Jennifer Hasselbach vice president, Caroline Thibodeau, secretary and board members Ted Simas and Hal Corbet. Susan Nylen recently retired to take care of grandmother duties.
“We don’t toot our own horn,” Caldera said, “but we are the fourth professional medical service in the community and we do take good care of our people. Most of our 110 employees in Manteca and in Tuolumne are family oriented.”
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