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Rural residents in Woodbury County could be without EMS and paramedics after Jan. 1

Rural residents in Woodbury County could be without EMS after Jan. 1

Rural Woodbury County residents could be facing a crisis if they need emergency care after January 1st.

That's the assessment of Woodbury County's Emergency Management director Gary Brown after the board of supervisors refused to hire three new paramedics last night.

Brown says the additions will be needed after January 1st when Siouxland Paramedics stops answering emergency calls after more than 30 years of service to rural areas.

He says the county needs the new positions to provide the same level of care residents are getting now.

"We've come along ways in 35 years and having that ability to give that drug and that medicine, to do those procedures on the way to hospital, especially in the rural area where you are traveling so far. We in EMS believe that it is time for EMS to become an essential service just like police, fire, county attorney, secondary roads, all of those other things that we rely on," said Brown.

Brown adds the county's lone paramedic, who operates out of Climbing Hill, provides a higher level of service than most community ambulances can.

And having someone like that on the scene can make a big difference.

"We've had cases in the wintertime where it's takes three or four hours to get a patient to the hospital because of having to wait for snow plows and actually follow a snow plow in to town. If you've got a broken hip or you're having chest pains or in a diabetic crisis, chances are, your outcome is not going to be very good if we can't do some of those things for you in the back of an ambulance,"Brown said.

The majority of supervisors say the county just can't afford the additional paramedics right now.

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