HOLSTEIN, Iowa (KCAU)– Currently in Ida County there is no full-time EMS staff, volunteers help the community when emergencies arise. That can leave residents waiting, sometimes half an hour for medical assistance. This is why voters are being asked to approve a special proposition in November.
“What it does is it allows the county government to tax for EMS. It wouldn’t just provide staffing it would also provide guaranteed EMT classes in the county every year hopefully to help with recruiting, bringing in new volunteers, it would also help our communities keep up their equipment,” said Corey Trucke, the Ida County EMS Association director.
Ida Grove has 18 EMT volunteers and Holstein has 24. However, only 6 to 10 of those volunteers are active and regularly respond to EMS calls and that is concerning for residents.
“I live about 10 minutes away from our ambulance shed where we respond to when a call comes in, so at a bare minimum it’s gonna take me 10 minutes, and then if additional crew members are further out we may be waiting at the ambulance before we can even leave to go respond to that patient. so that patient who’s in need of medical services is waiting up to 20 minutes for even an immediate response,” said Megan Wellendorf, an EMT with the Ida Grove ambulance.
“Being short staff burns out EMTs. You know we all have families, we all have other jobs, we’re all volunteers here in town. So by the time you work your 9 to 5 job or whatever it is then you come home with your kids and family and sometimes it’s the last thing you want to do is go out on a call,” said Billy Fraser, the Holstein Ambulance volunteer.
In 2022, the Ida Grove Ambulance responded to 526 calls while Holstein first responders rolled on 261 emergencies. When voters go to the polls on November 7th the number everyone will be looking for is 60%, the support needed to approve the EMS proposition.
“Sometimes just one less person who’s gotta show up in the middle of the night or once again 2 o’clock in the morning sometimes you don’t hear the pager, sometimes you oversleep, so knowing that if we’re up here waiting it’s like alright once again we have Corey or another employee is gonna be on the way and it’s gonna help save lives,” said Fraser.
“If you needed an ambulance, how much would you pay for an ambulance to be there? If you were with a loved one who is experiencing a medical emergency, if you were with your child who is in pain, if you were with a stranger who was unresponsive how much money would you give at that point in time for an ambulance to be there? Because if it’s $40 then there’s absolutely no reason to vote this down,” said Wellendorf.
If voters don’t support the tax, Ida County officials say they’re not sure what the future of the ambulance service holds. Voters still looking for more information on the issues can attend an informational meeting set for the Arthur Community Building on October 24th at 7 p.m.