To the Editor:
This letter is in response to Eric Meyer’s article in the July 20 issue of the Marion County Record about ambulance calls and wait times.
Ambulance response times and availability have been an ongoing problem for some time now. It is no secret that due to fewer volunteers we have had a great deal of difficulty maintaining five fully staffed ambulances 24/7. As outlined in the article, the number of ambulances available at any given time fluctuates drastically and all too often is simply not enough to meet our needs.
Your staff person that was agitated about a 20-minute wait time subsequently lectured the County Commission about the wait time being unacceptable.
I agree, and this happening is regrettable and troubling. However, one must keep in mind that your employee experienced what is a fact of life for a significant portion of this county’s population.
A person living in the outlying cities of the county, such as Burns, Lost Springs, or Goessel, or in any of the rural areas is subject to that kind of wait time as a standard. Even with an ambulance staffed and available, the distances involved result in a significant but unavoidable wait time.
The commission is addressing the staffing problem by exploring hiring full-time employees to ensure we have at least one ambulance staffed daily. (We have already hired two full time EMTs.)
This is not to say the issues addressed in the article are thus solved. If we have only one ambulance on call and it is on a run, for all practical purposes at that time there is no ambulance coverage.
I want everyone to understand that dispatch and the volunteer EMTs are doing everything they can to make sure an ambulance is where it is needed, when it is needed, in as short of time as possible.
Our EMTs make extra-ordinary efforts and sacrifices to make themselves available as often as possible. There are simply not enough available volunteers to staff ambulances as we would like.