BLAIRSTOWN, Iowa (KCRG) While many communities in Iowa struggle to staff and equip rural ambulance services, one department in Benton County added some upgrades.
State data show 70 percent of Iowa's EMS Services are run by volunteers. And a majority of those have shortages. But that's not the case in Blairstown, and due to a strong community the department was able to get a new ambulance.
"The radio up front is new for us,” EMS Director Mindy Fisher said. "It's going to allow us to talk to our county but also Linn County, Johnson County."
The radio is just one of many new features. It will help during joint emergency responses.
Fisher said the new truck has been in the works for more than a year. It replaces an outdated ambulance. And it’s needed as crews respond to about 200 calls a year.
"We probably have more medical calls than trauma calls but we are next to Highway 30 so we have plenty car accidents,” Fisher said.
The department has the volunteers to run an ambulance 24/7. There are 40 volunteers, and three are on call at any given time.
Marilyn Dellamuth is one of the volunteers. She started several years ago, after her own health scare.
"In 2009 I had a brain aneurism they coiled it,” Dellamuth said. "Then we had a thing at the church on CPR and one of the drivers said you would be good at that you should take the class."
Stepping up to help, like others did for her. That mindset helps the department thrive.
Fisher adds keeps the community safe.
Each volunteer is required to sign up for at least three separate 12 hours shifts a month.
The EMS department also works closely with Blairstown Firefighters. That is also an all-volunteer department and has strong numbers.