Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Rural emergency services need more volunteers

The shortage of emergency workers in rural areas continues to be a growing problem. The Oklahoman reports the Sooner State's ambulance services face mounting financial challenges, and The Associated Press reports problems recruiting workers to staff volunteer fire and EMT services in rural Idaho.

Three Oklahoma ambulance services have closed in the past year, making a total of 50 in the past eight years. "Shrinking tax bases, low Medicare and insurance reimbursements, and a state law requiring the closest ambulance to respond to an emergency" have all contributed to the problem, Vallery Brown writes for The Oklahoman. (Read more) To see The Rural Blog's previous coverage of Oklahoma's ambulance crisis, click here.

In Idaho, finances are not necessarily the primary concern in recruting for volunteer fire departments and emergency medical services, which make up 80 percent of Idaho's emergency-response programs. "There's so much to do today," said Phil Gridley, a fire chief in southwest Idaho. "I do 10 times more things with my grandkids than I did with my own kids. Really and truly, I think the younger generation is busy." But Kevin Courtney, another southwest Idaho fire chief, said that it's about different priorities, that the earlier generation was "taught that this is what you do for your community." (Read more)

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