OTTUMWA – At a time when the EMS profession is chronically understaffed and the pressures on healthcare organizations are at unprecedented levels, this is a huge win for the local area. Van Buren County and the surrounding rural area will soon be boasting 15 newly certified EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians).
According to Lori Reeves, Continuing Education Coordinator at Indian Hills Community College, “Outreach classes like the one currently being held in Van Buren County are vital to provide opportunities for the training needed to assure EMS services in our smaller communities. Indian Hills is thrilled to partner with Van Buren County Hospital to make this one possible.”
At the local level, William Cline, Ambulance Manager at Van Buren County Hospital (VBCH), worked tirelessly to promote the opportunity to other local agencies and let them know about the funding available to help them offset their training costs. In addition to VBCH, Douds First Responders, Bonaparte EMS, Cantril First Responders, Eldon Fire & Rescue, Farmington EMS and Davis County Hospital all are supporting participants in the course.
While there are several factors that contribute to the shortage of trained EMS personnel across rural Iowa, one factor that often prohibits primarily volunteer organizations from providing the training to their members is cost.
According to Dr. Matt Thompson, Indian Hills President, “Indian Hills takes our role as the regional workforce provider very seriously. A few years ago we recognized that it was an increasing challenge for many of our health care organizations to budget for ongoing training for their staff, or in some cases volunteers. We know how important this training is for the health and safety of our communities and we needed to find a way to make it more accessible. We now dedicate $80,000 a year to providing scholarships for these organizations. Each healthcare organization can apply for a scholarship that will cover 70% of their training cost, up to $4,200 in scholarship dollars per organization, per year.”
The current class of EMT students will finish their training by the end of January and begin their state certification exams on February 6th. The class was taught by Paramedics Vicki Gallaher and Craig Lydolph.