Dubuque County Supervisor proposes creating a rural EMS fund

A firefighter helmet sits on the shelf at the Epworth Fire Department on Friday, Feb. 8, 2019....
A firefighter helmet sits on the shelf at the Epworth Fire Department on Friday, Feb. 8, 2019. (Charlie Grant, KCRG-TV9)(KCRG)
Published: Feb. 8, 2019 at 5:38 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

A new funding source might soon be available for rural emergency responders in Dubuque County.

Dubuque County Supervisor Jay Wickham created a proposal that would establish the Tom Hancock Memorial Fire and EMS Grants totaling $125,000 annually.

Wickham said rural, volunteer departments could use the extra monetary support.

"I’ve been to quite a few varieties of different fundraisers that the local EMS and fire and have just seen that the volunteers there put their heart and soul into those facilities and for the protection of their local community," Wickham said. "This is a way to make sure that those volunteers have the equipment, the training, and the facilities to make sure they can protect people."

Along with fundraising, those rural organizations also apply for grants and receive funding from local townships. Epworth, for example, receives a little more than $12,000 from its township.

Epworth Fire Chief and Dubuque County Emergency Management Coordinator Tom Berger said that doesn't really cover all their costs, like buying new uniforms.

He said, "you’re looking at $4,000 to $5,000 by the time you totally outfit a firefighter."

Recruiting volunteers for the department is also a challenge, according to Berger.

"You ask them to be the volunteers for the fire and EMS and respond to do the calls, do the training, but then to have to fundraise in order to provide the service, it’s difficult and it’s demanding," Berger said.

Berger also believes the fund is a fitting tribute for Hancock, who was a volunteer for the Epworth Fire Department for 45 years, many of those years spent as the Chief.

"He was a close friend and a mentor and somebody to really look up to who really dedicated his whole life to public service," Berger said.

Wickham said Hancock was a "tremendous civil servant for the community."

Berger hopes the Supervisors approve this proposal.

"When you have an opportunity like this, if it goes through with the Supervisors, it’s just huge," he said.

Wickham said the Board will discuss his proposal at its meeting on Monday, February 11th. If it is approved, Wickham said it will be added to a future meeting's agenda as an official resolution.