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EMS agencies across Iowa preparing to become essential services

Published: Nov. 17, 2021 at 5:51 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -EMS departments across Iowa are preparing to become essential services. Revenue is a big boost in becoming one. It would allow them to collect tax money to pay for services.

That can help pay staff and for training, which is needed in many rural communities. Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law last June. Each county’s Board of Supervisors will decide on declaring its EMS services as essential.

Cedar County is expected to vote and pass it next week. In Linn County, EMS agencies are starting the talks now.

Madison Day works 36 hours a week as a paramedic for Lisbon-Mount Vernon Ambulance Service’s residency program. She balances her residency with working a full-time job since the residency doesn’t pay.

“If you have to choose between picking up a shift at work, or picking up a shift here, we would rather be here,” Day said. “But sometimes financially we have to go and pick up our shift at work.”

Only the EMS director gets paid at Lisbon-Mount Vernon. Being able to pay help them keep workers like Day around. It will also cover the cost for training, equipment, and help them at a call, as they are seeing a 14% increase in calls according to the EMS director “You call 9-1-1 you expect and ambulance to show up,” said EMS Director for Lisbon-Mount Vernon Ambulance Service Jake Lindauer. “And not only should you expect an ambulance to show up, but you should expect trained individuals to show up on that ambulance as well.”

EMS agencies across Linn County are also discussing the next step. If the supervisors approve a tax for EMS departments, it will then go on a ballot that will need a 60% supermajority to pass They hope to have this in place within the next two years. Day says it’s a long time coming, and retaining experienced paramedics is vital to smaller communities in Iowa.

“There’s a lot of us that joke around and say just pay us already because we love being here,” she said. “We love the family that we have here.”

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