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Hudson family, EMS leaders team up to educate public about the EMS crisis

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

“Where you live should not determine if you live, if a medical emergency arises."

That's what an eastern Iowa family and EMS leaders want to tell people across the state. 

They're teaming up, trying to educate the public about a continuing problem. They say right now emergency medical services (EMS) are not considered essential in the state of Iowa.

What does that mean for the public? 

Kip Ladage, the coordinator for Bremer County Emergency Management, says, "If you call 911 and expect an ambulance, especially in the small communities,you might not get the help you need. You may not get an ambulance. There's no requirement across the state for EMS services to be provided. We need to address that."

Bremer County EMS Association President Jim Shutte says, "There are times, especially during the work day, that many EMS agencies in the county are not able to respond. As a result, people must wait for an ambulance to arrive from other communities. Sometimes that wait can be long, and the end result may not be good. Our volunteers are doing the best they can, but the situation is going to get worse."  

The Hansen family shares their story, hoping to show others just how serious this is. 

Hudson grandpa Tim Hansen died about two years ago from a heart attack. 

His daughter tried to get him medical attention, and she dialed 911. 

But Hansen's wife says, "there was only one EMS worker that day, and with only one person, they could not transport." 

Today, Donna Hansen, along with Ladage and Shutte, are hoping to educate the public with their "Crisis in EMS" presentations. 
    
They say because EMS is not considered essential in the state, there's no requirement for state or local funding to help pay for ambulance services. 

Many EMTs are volunteers, and Ladage says many small-town communities are struggling for volunteers, especially as people reach retirement age. 

He says, "There's a good share of EMTs in the state that are getting up there in age. They're in the 45+ years old. Not that that's a bad thing, but we need some young people to be moving up in the ranks." 

Ladage adds, "If we don't address the issue, morbidity and mortality are going to increase. We're going to lose people. That needs to stop." 

Here is where you come in: 

The Hansen family and these EMS leaders are asking people to reach out to their elected officials. 

They want people to tell their lawmakers that ambulance services need to be considered essential in Iowa, and that there should be some sort of consistent, sustainable funding plan in Iowa to help pay for these services. 

If you would like to learn more, or if you would like to have a "Crisis in EMS" presentation set up in your community, you can reach out to Kip Ladage with Bremer County Emergency Management. 

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