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Iowa county using reserve deputies as medics to help with EMS staffing shortage

The deputies work six, 12-hour shifts per month; the board recently approved funding to hire four more reserve deputies

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Photo/YouTube via KCCI News

By Ashley Silver

JASPER COUNTY, Iowa — An Iowa county’s EMS agency has gotten creative in how they respond to medical emergencies after facing a dire staffing crisis.

KCCI News reported that 16 EMS departments in Iowa have been forced to close since 2020, with most of the closures due to a lack of volunteers. To fill the void, leaders in Jasper County, Iowa, have begun dispatching reserve deputies who are trained as paramedics to respond to emergency calls. These deputies work six, 12-hour shifts per month to help alleviate staffing shortages.

“We’re just trying to help fill the gap that is needed in our county,” Jacob Halferty, reserve deputy paramedic, told KCCI. “Just having more advanced life support and getting people on scene.”

According to KCCI, Halferty and the other reserve deputy on staff have responded to more than 140 calls for service in nine months of an 18-month trial period. However, there is additional help on the horizon.

The Jasper County Board recently approved funding to hire four more reserve deputies using American Rescue Plan Act money. With six reserve deputies on staff, the county expects to fill up to 26 days each month with an 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. shift.

“By far we’ve gotten good feedback,” Sheriff John Halferty told the news platform. “Good input from our other providers that they like the program and they want to see it continue.”

Sheriff Halferty believes the additional help will allow the department to respond to medical emergencies more efficiently, having trained professionals available when and where they’re needed the most: “We are trying to meet those needs. Then, in some cases with the paramedics, they need advanced care for those patients. So, we are trying to fill that gap as well.”

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