An 56-year-old ambulance service in northern shut down its operation this morning — leaving some cities in the lurch. Operators of Snell’s Ambulance service told officials in Mason City in 2003 they would shut down without government subsidy. The Mason City Fire Department started ambulance service for Mason City and several other communities, but Snell’s continued to be the primary ambulance provider for several towns in the area. Mason City fire chief Bob Platts says they will give short-term help to those towns originally covered by Snell’s. He says they’ve contacted all the dispatch center and there will be ambulances if someone calls. Platts says they plan to meet and discuss more permanent plans. He says they’ve been trying to contact all the mayors from all of the cities to attend the meeting. The city of Clear Lake says they’ll be using a combination of the Mason City Fire Department for ambulance services and their own fire department for first response in the short-term. City Administrator Scott Flory says they were caught a bit off-guard by Snell’s pulling the plug. He says they were notified this morning at nine o’clock by a representative of Snell’s that they’d no longer be providing ambulance service. Flory says some city officials had been concerned with Snell’s since they couldn’t reach a formal agreement with the city on providing ambulance services last year. He says they tried for the last eight months to get an agreement with Snell’s, but were unsuccessfull in getting the company to come to an agreement. Platts and Flory say that residents served by Snell’s are being told to call their emergency numbers for service as normal during the short-term period. The owners of Snell’s were out of town and unavailable for comment.