Thursday, May 18, 2006

Lack of volunteers threatens rural ambulances


In the past year, three ambulance services have shuttered in a state where about 90 percent of EMTs are volunteers, said Tim Meyer, director of the state Division of Emergency Services.

About one-third of the state's 141 ambulance services are at risk of the same fate, he said. EMTs and officials worry the shortage could hurt the quality of health care, forcing people to wait longer before an ambulance arrives.

"Science will tell you the longer you have to wait when you're having an acute event, the less likely you'll have a positive outcome," Meyer said.

North Dakota is not alone. Volunteer shortages are found in most states, said Jerry Johnston, president-elect of the National Association of EMTs.

"There's been some ... debate about what the issue is with volunteerism," Johnston said. "But a lot of it has to do with the generation of people right now."

Earlier generations had strong feelings of volunteerism and being part of a bigger world, said Mark Haugen, past president of the North Dakota Emergency Medical Services Association.

"We need to rekindle that spirit," Haugen said.


Post a Comment

<< Home