New EMS program coming to Calhoun County

$50,000 state grant awarded

ROCKWELL CITY — Volunteers with basic first aid training will play a key role in responding to medical emergencies throughout Calhoun County in a new program funded largely by a just awarded state grant.

Calhoun County is one of three communities that received $50,000 grants from the new Iowa United First Aid program Wednesday.

“Calhoun County is honored to have been selected by the Governor’s Empower Rural Iowa initiative as one of the three communities to pilot this first in the state program,” said Luke Winkelman, the interim director of Calhoun County Emergency Medical Service. “Calhoun County is ideally suited to meet the focus of Iowa United First Aid.”

When the program starts this summer, trained volunteers equipped with a basic medical kit and an automated external defibrillator will be ready to respond to medical emergencies and provide potentially lifesaving care before an ambulance arrives. Winkelman said he hopes to recruit 20 to 50 people.

Those volunteers will be alerted to emergencies via an app on their phones.

The volunteers, who would not be paramedics or emergency medical technicians, would supplement the county’s current EMS providers

Winkelman said former EMS Director Kerrie Hull, who retired about a month ago, played a key role in securing the grant and starting the program in Calhoun County.

“Kerrie’s coordination was instrumental in aligning the necessary resources and structure to support such a forward-thinking project,” he said.

Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg came to Rockwell City in February to talk about the program.

“This model holds real promise in using technology and innovation to solve a serious challenge facing our rural communities,” he said in a written statement released Wednesday.

The lieutenant governor said he was inspired to create this pilot program after a trade mission to Israel. There, he met the leader of a volunteer EMS group called United Hatzalah which uses a system of volunteers with basic training and gear to respond to medical emergencies. He said in Jerusalem, this system puts a trained volunteer on a scene in about 90 seconds. Elsewhere in Israel, he said, it puts a volunteer on scene in about three minutes.

Calhoun County will have to provide a $25,000 match for the grant, making a total of $75,000 available for the program.

Winkelman said the first steps will include buying the needed first aid supplies and working with technology providers on the app that will alert the volunteers.

He added that he will be recruiting volunteers. He plans to contact civic clubs and veterans groups as part of that effort.

The volunteers will have to complete six to 10 hours of training on things like CPR, operating the defibrillator and controlling severe bleeding.

The Cass County Board of Health and Van Buren County Hospital were the other two grant recipients announced Wednesday.

How to help

Calhoun County residents interested in volunteering for the new Iowa United First Aid program should call Calhoun County Emergency Medical Service at -712-297-8619.


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