EMS agency exit could leave paramedic gap for rural residents

Patients in rural areas surrounding Sioux City could be left with little to no access to high-level care en route to the hospital

By EMS1 Staff

SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Rural residents could face a gap in paramedic access when a regional EMS agency shuts down operations.

Sioux City Journal reported that Siouxland Paramedics Inc., a longtime agency for the area, will stop responding to calls Jan. 1. First responders said rural patients will feel the loss the most, especially during times when paramedics from other surrounding agencies are unavailable.

EMS providers said patients who suffer strokes, heart attacks and other major medical issues will be most impacted due to the fact that the available EMTs may not be able to administer the life support measures they need.

Woodbury County Emergency Services Director Gary Brown described the upcoming changes as a “healthcare crisis.”

"We had an elderly person the other day who we couldn't move until we gave them some (pain medication)," Brown said. "We wouldn't be able to do that now without a paramedic. You're going to just have to tough it out, and that's not what we want to do to our patients."

Siouxland Paramedics Inc. cited financial problems as the reason for ending services. The agency will continue to provide non-emergent transports between medical facilities.

Brown added that 98 percent of patients requiring paramedic care in 2016 received it from either Siouxland Paramedics Inc. or agencies in other counties.

Although city officials have expressed a desire to find a solution, whatever is decided will not go into effect by the time the void will take place.

"If the decision were made today to fund it, I still wouldn’t have anyone (by Jan. 1)," Brown said. "But that doesn’t mean we still shouldn’t try and get this resolved."

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