As of Tuesday, January 16, 2018
“It’s a flawed model to base emergency resources on volunteerism only. Funding is definitely an issue.”
This is the view of Jerry Zumalt, who’s not only a trustee for the Syringa Hospital Board, but he’s also the coordinator for Idaho County Disaster Management.
Maybe we should be paying attention.
Last month’s trustee meeting raised an issue long known by rural emergency medical service providers: the difficulty in recruiting volunteers and raising operating funds. That is a continual task for EMS groups across the county — likely a sizeable part of many of the volunteers’ spare hours for their organizations is spent in seeking out potential new recruits, and doing fund-raisers and bake sales to keep vehicles running and staff current on training.
What these EMS services mean to Idaho County residents — prompt initial medical care and transport to a facility for treatment — is best-appreciated by those who have been on the receiving end in such cases as vehicular or industrial accidents, victim of a crime, or suffering from sudden or chronic health reversals. In any of these cases the lack of such service, or an extended delay, means long-term disability or death.
So, we should be very concerned when we’re hearing our hospital officials and EMTs raising the call for help to maintain and perpetuate this critical community service.
Ideally, it would be good to continue the volunteer model, that young people would step forward to commit to becoming EMTs and be ready to transition into leadership when existing staff retire. That would also entail the commitment of area employees who support their staff in the on-call availability such service requires.
Realistically, that current model is in question as volunteers – as any local organization or event committee can tell you – are in short supply. The next step, then, is looking into paid staff.
Right now, Syringa Hospital has set up a committee to brainstorm the issue on both community education and finding solutions to local EMS challenges. Our recommendation would be expanding that by identifying community leaders in business, government and charitable organizations, and with these representatives conduct such an informative discussion. From this a core could be formed that then would show the leadership and direction to potentially guide the community toward solutions and how they can be a part in making them happen.
Syringa shouldn’t have to go it alone on this. We all have interest in this issue and in seeing solutions toward improving EMS services not just revive but also thrive.