Churdan, GJ in danger of losing their rescue squads

EMTs needed; financial help for training available

~by Dennis Morlan, Greene County emergency management coordinator

On a state and national level, multiple reports indicate that volunteerism is in significant decline. According to data released by the Iowa Department of Health – Bureau of Emergency Medical Services, 74 percent of the EMS providers in Iowa are in the 30-59 age bracket with 49 percent of the EMS providers being in the 40-59 age bracket.

Clearly, staffing of rural EMS departments in the state of Iowa is a serious problem. Greene County is not an exception to the staffing problem.

Iowa law requires that every transporting ambulance have at least one licensed EMT in the back of the unit providing care for the patient.

At the present time, both Churdan rescue and Grand Junction rescue are in danger of losing their rescue squads.

Churdan rescue has only four EMS certified basic EMTs. One EMT is involved in an educational opportunity and is considering resigning. Two EMTs carry the bulk of the load in supplying 24/7 coverage for their community and one of those EMTs is employed out-of-town.

Grand Junction rescue has four active EMS personnel who are attempting to keep their department staffed on a 24/7 basis. Two of these EMTs are employed outside of the community.

If Churdan rescue and Grand Junction rescue are going to continue to survive, additional volunteer members are needed now.

Churdan rescue’s basic response area is their fire protection district. Grand Junction provides basic life support to their own and Rippey’s fire protection districts.

Greene County EMS (GCEMS) is a privately owned service that has provided service to Greene County for the past 29 years. GCEMS provides service to all of Greene County in accordance with their contract with the county board of supervisors. The basic initial response area for GCEMS includes the Jefferson, Scranton, and Paton fire protection districts.

Of the patients GCEMS provides care for, 50 percent of them request transport to the Greene County Medical Center. In addition to local responses, GCEMS routinely provides long distance transports to hospitals in Des Moines, Ames, Iowa City, Omaha, and Rochester.

Health care in Greene County is provided from many locations. Many residents from the Scranton area request transport to St. Anthony’s in Carroll. Residents in Churdan often ask for transport to Lake City or Fort Dodge. Paton residents often receive care from Fort Dodge, Ames, and Boone providers. Grand Junction and Rippey residents often ask to be transported to Perry, Boone, or Ames.

GCEMS is a paramedic level service with four fulltime and nine part-time employees. Eight of these employees are certified to provide advanced level care. GCEMS operates three fully equipped paramedic units.

GCEMS tiers with Churdan and Grand Junction’s rescue units when advanced care is needed.

If Churdan rescue and Grand Junction rescue cannot respond with a staffed ambulance, GCEMS is expected to provide a transport unit.

This past week, GCEMS had a unit on the way back from Iowa City when two calls occurred within minutes of each other. One unit responded to Paton and the third unit emptied the garage for a call within Jefferson. These two calls were followed by a response to Scranton.

GCEMS, Churdan rescue, and Grand Junction rescue all are in need of additional staff.

GCEMS staffs two crews working by pager from 6 am to 6 pm and 6 pm to 6 am shifts. In addition to a full time opening, GCEMS has part-time paid openings for both certified and driver-only members.

Arrangements have been made with the Mercy College of Health Sciences to offer a hybrid EMT class to begin in just three weeks. The registration deadline is rapidly approaching.

The Greene County board of supervisors has an EMS grant to help pay for the educational expenses of individuals who complete EMT training.

For additional information, contact Joleen Killeen, Ann Meyer, or Nichole Flinn in Churdan. Rescue squad members in Grand Junction include Jessica Habben, Pierre Kellogg, Lindsey Jacobs, and Mary Tonsfeldt. Jefferson residents can contact Dennis or Marcia at 515 386-4404.

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