Churdan, Junction in danger of losing ambulance squads

EMTs needed. County has grant to pay for training

Special to The Jefferson Herald

Both Churdan and Grand Junction are in danger of losing their volunteer rescue squads to low staffing, according to information released this week by Dennis Morlan, coordinator of Greene County Emergency Management and Homeland Security and president of Greene County EMS.

On a state and national level, multiple reports indicate that volunteerism is in significant decline.

According to data from the Iowa Department of Health, 74 percent of EMS providers in the state are in the 30-59 age bracket, with 49 percent in the 40-59 age bracket.

Greene County is not an exception to the staffing problem, according to Morlan.

Churdan Rescue has only four EMS-certified basic EMTs — one is involved in an educational opportunity and is considering resigning. Two EMTs carry the bulk of 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 attempting to keep their department staffed on a 24/7 basis. Two of those EMTs are employed outside the community.

If Churdan Rescue and Grand Junction Rescue are going to survive, Morlan says, additional volunteer members are needed now.

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

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

Greene County EMS is a privately owned service with four full-time and nine part-time employees. Eight of the employees are certified to provide advanced-level care.

GCEMS operates three fully equipped paramedic units.

Its basic response area 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, GCEMS routinely provides long-distance transports to hospitals in Des Moines, Ames, Iowa City, Omaha and Rochester, Minn.

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 partners with Churdan and Grand Junction rescue units when advanced care is needed.

If Churdan Rescue and Grand Junction Rescue can’t respond with an ambulance, GCEMS is expected to provide a transport unit.

This past week, according to Morlan, GCEMS had a unit on its 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. Those two calls were followed by a response to Scranton.

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

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 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 Dennis or Marcia Morlan at 515-386-4404.

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