“Now I love taking the calls with my dad. It’s really special to work alongside each other,” said Sadie.
To successfully operate a rural ambulance service in Wabasha, serving Wabasha and Gundersen St. Elizabeth’s Hospital and Clinics, the towns of Reads Landing, Kellogg, and part of Minneiska along with the townships of Greenfield, Pepin, and Glasgow, it takes commitment from 13 active volunteers (paid on-call staff) and 3 paid full-time EMTs. Together, this small group of individuals, average 550 calls per year, complete hundreds of hours training, and cover over 17,500 hours of call time.
Unfortunately, across the country, rural EMS is in crisis, with news of EMS services shutting down as rural populations do not have the population density to make a fully paid 24-7 staffing model financially feasible. So services rely on volunteers. But the nature of work has changed; employers are less willing to allow their employees time away from work to respond to service calls. There are also more regulations and training requirements to operate a service and an aging demographic population means less volunteers are available to serve.