Minnesota Ambulance Association discuss rural EMS concerns with lawmakers

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The Minnesota Ambulance Association met with lawmakers on Thursday to discuss solutions for the glaring problems with EMS in rural communities. The two biggest concerns for emergency medical services in rural areas are staffing and funding.

Jim Rieber, the Director of Emergency Medical Services at Perham health, talked more about the challenges facing paramedics. Specifically, the lack of volunteers and other EMS staff in rural areas.

“So most of us are operating with less staff than we would be normally full time staff. I would say overall, those rates and the number of people are anywhere from 20 to 30% openings that they have in their departments. Part of that is difficult to get people to go into this field with the reimbursement that we have today.” Rieber said. “Medicare is set by the federal government and they recognize they’re paying less the cost of service and they’re doing some things to look at it. But it could take years and years for that to change. So every time you transport a Medicare patient from the ambulance industry, you lose money on that patient.”

David Brooks, a Mayo Clinic Operations Coordinator in the Duluth Superior area, shared some advice about EMS operating in the Northland. “We’re not able to replace volunteers and paramedics and first responders, emergency medical responders that we’ve had in the past that are retired. A lot of folks have aged out of the industry, and that’s probably the biggest challenge.” Brooks said. “You know it’s it can be difficult to meet their needs and the needs of their communities with the small low taxes that they that they’re provided and especially if they, run on a voluntary basis.”

Brooks also said while the Mayo Clinic have the resources to tackle some emergency medical responses in rural communities. However, other staff in other smaller EMS really struggle with lack of funding and volunteers.

For more information on EMS you can look here https://mn.gov/emsrb/grantprojects/regional-programs/.

For a story in Nashwauk you can read more here https://www.wdio.com/front-page/top-stories/wdio-special-report-what-happened-after-the-double-fatal-crash-in-rural-nashwauk/.