Rural EMS crisis in Iowa, new building "vital" - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Rural EMS crisis in Iowa, new building "vital"

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Waiting more than 40 minutes for help in the middle of an emergency, that could be the reality for one eastern Iowa town. 

The town of Sumner says they're running out of money to build a new Emergency Management System's building, but that's not all. This is happening as some volunteer EMS in rural Iowa are in crisis mode, dealing with a lack of state money and volunteers. 

Sumner Emergency Medical Service or SEMS Director Alicia Smith says, "With the healthcare system in Iowa, the reimbursement rates are very low, and majority of the time we are actually losing money."

There's also a lack of volunteers which makes it hard to operate under strained resources. If the town loses SEMS, Waterloo would be the closest large city crew to help and it would take crews 40 minutes to get there and in an emergency, every second counts.

Smith says the move to the new building right now is crucial.

She says, "Where we are at now is not conducive to what we need as a priority and essential service."

The current building is cramped, with a divider separating the office from the living quarters and a corner space as the kitchen.

Community Memorial Hospital CEO Dustin Wright says, "It's not only vital for the community, but for the hospital. Our patients deserve to have this level of care in our community."

Take it from Duane Weisert who suffered a massive heart attack last month.

"There wasn't much time, if it wasn't for the hospital and staff here at SEMS, I probably wouldn't be here today," he says. 

Smith says it's all about quality health care and to help you... they need your help.

"We are being proactive. We are doing everything we can do to prevent closing our doors," she says.

This new building is completely off of donations and grants. They need about $250,000 to finish it.

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