EMS Week starts Sunday

To the editor:

National EMS (Emergency Medical Service) Week is May 21 -27, 2017. EMS provides critical, emergent and immediate medical care to patients throughout the state. Many EMS providers are paid professionals, but close to 90 percent, are highly trained volunteers who provide these services to people throughout rural Iowa when the need arises.

We would like to thank the First Responders in Fort Dodge, Webster County, Otho, Coalville, Lehigh, Harcourt, Duncombe, Badger, Barnum and Callendar Fire Departments for all the help and support with other volunteer ambulance crews in our county. Vincent, Dayton, Gowrie and Clare also have ambulance crews that support the residents in our region, bring patients to Trinity and provide hundreds of hours of volunteer services to ensure that sick and injured patients receive the best and immediate care they need.

EMS is currently not considered an “Essential Service” by the State of Iowa. Fire and police protection are mandated to be “Essential Services” and must be funded by local governments. This is not the case for EMS.

Members of EMS have asked the Legislature to address this issue recently, but nothing has progressed. In fact, the number of volunteer members of EMS has dropped drastically during the past years – recruitment and retention of volunteers has always been an issue. This situation cannot possibly ensure that our citizens will receive the immediate care they require in emergency situations. Many communities supplement their volunteer EMS services by holding local fundraisers.

We urge you to contact your legislator and ask that EMS be designated an essential service. It may be you or your family who is affected by this situation.

The theme for EMS Week in 2017 is “One mission, one team” – our caring and our courage ensure your health and your life. Please join us in thanking members of the EMS profession for the countless lives they impact and save.

John Copper

Trinity Regional

Medical Center

UnityPoint Health

Fort Dodge