EMS background checks are worth the hassle
Ignoring the telltale signs of a problem will not boost public trust
By Art Hsieh
Iowa's EMS system has been under scrutiny this past year. Poor response times and other issues plague the mostly volunteer system that serves a mostly rural region of the country.
But implementing background checks is not going to worsen the problem. The cost of performing the task is much less than the cost of letting a felon violate the sanctity of the patient/caregiver relationship.
In a previous column about another state committing the same mistake, I made a rough calculation of the cost. It's not much when you compare it to a state's budget. And, I suspect a state-wide project to protect the public could be covered by a pork barrel project or two (or more).
There are many issues Iowans face, all related to a rural-based economy. Public services can be stretched thin. Is EMS considered a nonessential service, available only when the community provides it? In essence, that is what's happening throughout the state. That can very well be the status quo and very acceptable to the population.
But for areas that can afford EMS services, it's priceless to have the peace of mind that someone who enters your home has no criminal background, or has been shown to be trustworthy. It also reflects on the industry as a whole, that we trust ourselves enough to have background checks performed as a matter of entry into the profession.
And one governor's experience notwithstanding, it would make sense that all Iowans have the same good experience when they have to reach out for emergency help.