CNN Source Article | Comments courtesy of Matt Zavadsky
Sadly, this scenario is accentuated in rural communities. But, it’s also a growing challenge in most all EMS agencies, rural, suburban and urban.
NAEMT, the American Ambulance Association, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, and the International Association of Fire Fighters are collaborating on a number of initiatives to try and help with the major economic challenges facing our nations EMS agencies.
Rural ambulance crews are running out of money and volunteers. In some places, the fallout could be nobody responding to a 911 call
By Lucy Kafanov, CNN
Sat May 22, 2021
Worland, Wyoming (CNN) America's rural ambulance services, often sustained by volunteers, are fighting for their survival -- a crisis hastened by the impact of Covid-19.
More than one-third of all rural EMS are in danger of closing, according to Alan Morgan, CEO of the National Rural Health Association. "The pandemic has further stretched the resources of our nation's rural EMS."
In Wyoming, the problem is especially dire. It may have the smallest population in America, but when it comes to land, Wyoming is the ninth-largest.
In Washakie County, which lies in Wyoming's southern Bighorn Basin, it means a tradeoff for the nearly 8,000 residents living here: While there is vast open space, the nearest major trauma hospital is more than 2.5 hours away.
On a recent drive from Cody -- the closest town with an airport -- the land stretched endlessly while cattle and wildlife outnumbered people. The sole reminders of civilization were the occasional oil rigs pumping silently in the distance.
But for the residents, speedy access to emergency medical services -- paramedics and an ambulance -- can be a matter of survival.
It's a fact Luke Sypherd knows all too well. For the past three years, he has overseen Washakie County's volunteer ambulance service. But on May 1, the organization was forced to dissolve.
"We just saw that we didn't have the personnel to continue," Sypherd said. "It was an ongoing problem made worse by Covid with fewer people interested in volunteering with EMS during a pandemic and patients afraid of getting taken to a hospital."