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By AP  /  
2016 April 10 - 05:06 pm

Rural Iowa EMS Teams Shrink, Struggle To Find New Staffers

Brain Drain from Rural Communities Placing Strain on Rescue Squads

MOORHEAD, Iowa (AP) — Rural communities in are struggling to find new Emergency Medical Services personnel as teams shrink due to the lack of new workers or volunteers.

The Sioux City Journal (http://bit.ly/1RZyptc ) reports that fire stations in Moorhead and other communities in Monora County cite the drain of youth from rural communities as the primary factor for the lack of new recruits.

Monona County Sheriff Jeff Pratt says the shortage has slowed response time since fewer people can stop what they’re doing to come to the aid of someone who’s sick or injured outside of town.

Moorhead has a population of about 230 people. It’s nearly a half hour drive to the nearest hospital in Onawa.

“It’s going to be tougher as time goes along,” said Duane Renz, an EMS responder with Moorhead Fire and Rescue. “A lot of young people are moving out of town.”

LaDonna Crilly, EMS program director at Western Iowa Tech Community College, said another cause of the shortage is that there just isn’t enough time anymore for people to get certified and stay current on regulations.

“People with families can’t commit that much time to get on and stay on an ambulance team,” she said. “Small towns are getting smaller and it takes hours and hours of training to get certified.”

Crilly said that she and others have tried various tactics to boost recruitment and interest over the years, including advertising in local newspapers, asking city council for help and holding public meetings. She said that nothing seems to help.

“The squads are getting smaller,” Crilly said.

Officials are brainstorming ways to help the situation.

“We need to find a solution sooner instead of later,” Pratt said. “There’s no kicking the can down the road on this.”

Information from: Sioux City Journal, http://www.siouxcityjournal.com

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