Calhoun County

New EMS volunteers considered

ROCKWELL CITY — In the not too distant future, when someone is injured anywhere in Calhoun County, the first person to help may be a neighbor with some training and a bag of basic medical gear.

Calhoun County is seeking to join a new state program that would provide money to recruit, train and equip a new group of volunteers who could reach emergency scenes quickly and provide lifesaving care in the minutes before an ambulance arrives.

The initiative that would make that possible is the Rural Emergency Medical Service Pilot Grant Program.

Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg discussed the program Feb. 3 at the Rockwell City Public Library with representatives of local government and emergency medical service providers. He said the state is looking for two communities willing to “lean into this new model and make it work.”

He said the state has $100,000 in the Governor’s Empower Rural Iowa Initiative for the emergency medical program.

He said two counties will be selected and will be given $50,000 each. Those counties, he said, will have to contribute $25,000 in local money as a match for the state money. Thus, each county would have $75,000 for the effort.

Kerrie Hull, director of Calhoun County Emergency Medical Service, said the county will file a pre-application for the grant.

Final applications will be due May 1 and counties will learn if they will get the money on June 30.

People who volunteer to be part of this program would not have to become emergency medical technicians or paramedics. Gregg said they would have to complete about 10 hours of training on things like CPR, first aid, controlling severe bleeding and operating an automatic external defibrillator. He said the goal should be making the training easy to complete in one or two sessions.

Gregg said the volunteers would be equipped with a “go bag” of medical gear and a defibrillator. He said they would be alerted by 911 dispatchers via a phone app.

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.

If Calhoun County is accepted into the program, the new volunteers would supplement, not replace, the existing emergency care providers.

Calhoun County Emergency Medical Service is the only paramedic level service and the only one with paid personnel. It has ambulances in Rockwell City, Manson and Lake City. However, not all of the ambulances may be staffed at the same time due to a lack of EMTs or paramedics.

Lohrville and Farnhamville have ambulance services that provide basic life support.


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