Area Ambulance Service celebrates 50 years of serving the community

Published: Apr. 23, 2021 at 7:08 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Area Ambulance Service in Cedar Rapids is celebrating 50 years of helping people in Cedar Rapids.

Doug Wullweber has been a paramedic for more than 15 years for Area Ambulance Service.

“When I first started we only had, you know, 3 units on at a time, we have 7 units at a time, we have all updated equipment, state of the art equipment,” he said. “The call volume has increased.”

He says they get more calls because the city is growing, so are areas of Johnson and Benton Counties that they also serve. Finding people to answer those calls is a growing challenge.

“A huge need for staffing there’s a national wide shortage for EMT’s and paramedics,” said Wullweber. “Some of it might have to do with the pay. But there’s different career paths for paramedics. They can work in the ER now instead of the field. There’s all kinds of just different career paths that paramedics can take other than just EMS.”

2020 saw paramedics adjusting during the pandemic and rushing into action during the Derecho.

“People’s medical needs just couldn’t be met at their homes because of no electricity,” said Paramedic Amber Herboldsheimer. “There were people that you know were trapped in their homes.”

“Our folks see a lot of hard calls,” added Jennifer Peden, Vice President of Area Ambulance Services. “And we’re constantly dealing with the mental health and the burnout and things like that. Trying to make sure we’re keeping track of our folks and taking good care of them.”

In a field that changes daily, the pride these workers take in saving lives stays the same.

“EMS is one of the services that isn’t usually recognized you know in the public eye as much as fire service or police service,” said Herboldsheimer. “So for a non-city funded, non-county funded to make to fifty years is a huge deal.”

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