When emergency strikes: A look into the EMS shortage

A shortage of EMTs is affecting response times in Butler County.

Dial 911 in a medical emergency, and you’ll expect an ambulance at your door in minutes to save your life. But in Butler County—and other rural counties throughout Iowa—you may not be so fortunate.

Part 1 in a series: The problem

     A combination of factors is to blame for the situation: an aging population, fading Main Streets, employers who won’t let staff leave for calls, the fact EMS is not an essential service in Iowa, lack of funding, everyone being too busy, and general apathy from a population unaware of the problem.

     “Right now, what is happening is during the daytime, from Monday to Friday, everyone is working. People don’t work in the communities they serve in, and if they do work here, their office staff is a skeleton crew, so they are not allowed to leave and go take a call,” said Tammy Fleshner, Butler County EMS Association chairperson. “It’s very scary. Butler County is very unique with eight services, seven of which are transport. They’re all volunteers. There is no hospital in the county.”

     Butler County EMA coordinator Mitch Nordmeyer agreed that it’s a huge problem during the day for a lot of services in the county. Calls that cannot be picked up by local ambulance crews are answered by crews from Waverly Hospital, Covenant, Satori and Franklin General Hospital. 


Read more in the January 11 edition of the STAR and Tribune.