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Research finds 82K Mainers live in ‘ambulance deserts’

University of Southern Maine study looks at the closest ambulances in rural communities


News Center Maine/YouTube

By Bill Carey

PORTLAND, Maine — A study about rural EMS revealed that six percent of Maine’s total population, or 82,000 Mainers, live in ambulance deserts, a location where the closest ambulance is at least 25 minutes.

Research from the University of Southern Maine shows the state has 215 ambulance stations. Two-thirds of people residing in ambulance deserts reportedly live in rural counties, News Center Maine reported.

“You are more likely to die if you have a cardiac arrest if you live in an ambulance desert. You just will not get to a health facility in time,” Yvonne Jonk, Maine Rural Health Research Center’s Deputy Director and faculty member at USM, said.

Jonk hopes the research will get the attention of state leaders to see the need for more assistance in the state’s EMS system, especially for rural providers.

The research, combined with what lawmakers know about the shortfalls in EMS could create a regionalized system with better coordination between separate EMS providers.