As you well know !
By REBECCA BOONE, Associated Press
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Most of Idaho's emergency medical services rely entirely on volunteers and don't have enough resources to meet the needs of their communities, according to a new report from the state's Office of Performance Evaluations.
Just 18% of EMS directors reported that their agency is able to maintain sufficient staff, according to the report released Friday, and 65% said they experienced delayed emergency response times because of staffing problems within the last year.
Under state law, emergency medical services aren’t considered “essential,” so there is no guarantee that every community will have access to ambulances or paramedics in an emergency. Across Idaho, EMS programs are run by a variety of entities — including private organizations, fire departments, local governments and other groups — using a patchwork of funding.
The funding challenges mean many of the EMS agencies rely on volunteers, according to the report. In rural Idaho, nearly 7 out of 10 EMS providers are volunteers.
“Agency officials we interviewed consistently reported that not every Idahoan gets the level of care they need during an emergency. They cited insufficient staffing as the primary reason,” the Office of Performance Evaluation staffers wrote in the report.
Staffing and funding issues aren't a new problem in the state. A 2010 report from the Office of Performance Evaluations found similar problems, but lawmakers didn't follow through on many of the things the office recommended to address the issues.
The Office of Performance Evaluations report found that the Legislature could help EMS agencies by providing financial compensation, benefits and training. Better tracking of patient care reports and other data by the Department of Health and Welfare's Bureau of EMS and Preparedness could also help the state direct support to the EMS agencies in need, the evaluators found.
Idaho Department of Health and Welfare Director Dave Jeppesen agreed with much of the report and noted that a data breach in a national EMS information tracking system prompted the state bureau to pause some data collection steps until officials were confident the security problems were fixed.
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