Most of Idaho’s emergency medical services rely entirely on volunteers and lack the resources to meet the needs of their communities, according to a new report from the state’s Office of Performance Assessments.
According to the report released on Friday, only 18% of EMS directors said their agency is able to maintain sufficient staff, and 65% said they experienced delayed emergency response times due to staffing issues at the office. over the past year.
Under state law, emergency medical services are not considered “essential”, so there is no guarantee that every community will have access to ambulances or paramedics in the event of a problem. 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.
Funding problems mean that many EMS agencies depend on volunteers, according to the report. In rural Idaho, nearly 7 in 10 EMS providers are volunteers.
“Agency officials we interviewed consistently reported that not all Idahoan receive the level of care they need in an emergency. They cited understaffing as the main reason, ”staff members of the Performance Review Office wrote in the report.
Staffing and funding issues are not a new problem in the state. A 2010 report from the Office of Performance Reviews found similar problems, but lawmakers failed to follow through on many of the actions recommended by the office to address the issues.
The Office of Performance Reviews 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 Office of EMS and Preparedness could also help the state to directly support EMS agencies in the process. 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 office to suspend certain stages of data collection until officials are satisfied the security concerns are resolved.