Imagine calling 9-1-1 and having no ambulance respond – this is an unfortunate reality rural areas are facing during a national EMS shortage.
In an effort to combat the issue, the Wisconsin Office of Rural Health has launched a Rural EMS Outreach Program to help services struggling due to a lack of funding and staffing shortages. James Small, the Outreach Program Manager, said “the point that we want to make is that right now, in Wisconsin, someone may call 9-1-1 and no one will come. It’s 2022 and were Wisconsin, this should be a problem we know how to fix.”
Approximately one in four Wisconsinites live in rural and frontier communities.
The goal of the program is to provide an experienced advisor, a phone call or email away, who can sit down with service leadership and help develop a tailored plan to their dynamics, free of charge. Small said “the key idea is to try and build a system that is sustainable both on a statewide level and in each of the individual communities around the state that depend on having this local service.”
According to Small, the issue should be discussed more within the Wisconsin community. “Wisconsin is a very community-oriented state, we have a very community-oriented culture, and I think this is something that all of us need to be concerned about for the safety of our community and our neighbors. This is something we need to put front and center and put priority on correcting.”
On top of helping communities develop a plan of attack, Small wants to encourage people who have ever considered EMS or EMT training to try it.