Rural EMS is in critical condition
Why is EMS considered a nonessential service?
By Art Hsieh
Providing any type of service in rural America is a challenge. Indeed, there is the thought that folks who live in the more remote regions of the country do so knowing they will have to make do with much less.
Many like it that way. But that doesn't address the question as to why EMS is not funded in such a way as to make it an essential service in such communities. People still get sick or hurt in rural communities. Most times, they may take themselves to the hospital. Other times, they require ambulance transport and early definitive care.
Volunteers aren't the answer in many of these situations. We already know finding citizens that have the time, energy and resources to go through the extensive training — and spend significant time providing EMS service outside of their work lives — are dwindling.
A government funded solution doesn't exist either. For the same reasons cited in the article regarding reimbursement, tax funding is equally scarce.
Yet, I'm not sure if we're ready to throw in the towel. The sense of justice for all prevails in our great country; folks who choose, or need to, live in rural regions should still have access to the same care found in more suburban and urban areas.
It may not look the same; perhaps rural providers are a more integrated part of a broader health coverage plan that provides a greater array of services that are effective in that area. There are service providers that are working toward that goal. But we have to be more cohesive in our approach. That is what will help change things.