NCSL Podcasts

Emergency Medicine in Rural America | OAS Episode 198

Episode Summary

Two experts in emergency medical services joined the podcast to discuss a variety of challenges to providing care in rural areas, including long waits for ambulances and a serious workforce shortage. They also talked about the role of legislatures in addressing EMS needs.

Episode Notes

Emergency medical services face significant challenges in rural America. Just one is the time it takes to summon an ambulance. While most people living in urban and suburban areas expect an ambulance to show up within minutes of making a 911 call, the situation is very different for about 4.5 million Americans who live in ambulance deserts, according to a nation study conducted by Maine Rural Health Research Center and the Rural Health Research & Policy Centers. Those folks can expect to wait 25 minutes or more for emergency services to arrive. 

We sat down with two experts on the subject -- Dia Gainor, executive director of National Association of State EMS Officials, and Davis Patterson, director of the WWAMI Rural Health Research Center at University of Washington—to discuss that and other challenges to EMS in rural areas. Other issues they discussed included the severe workforce challenges in staffing rural EMS services, the role of legislatures in addressing rural EMS needs and the promise of community paramedicine in addressing both emergency and nonemergency care in rural areas.