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We Know Better

By Staff | Apr 23, 2013

It’s taken me a good two weeks to cool off after reading the special section “the newspaper Iowa depends upon” graced our doorsteps on April 7 about the Emergency Medical Services in Iowa, and I’ve finally come up with a response to the stories. I’m disappointed in the stories and trust me, that’s a very mild statement.

Firstly, for a time back in the early 1990’s, I was a member of one of those volunteer EMS services, and I answered my share of calls at O-dark thirty in the morning. I’d roll into the ambulance shed, complete with bed hair, lucky to have socks on inside my shoes, but ready to answer that call for help. The Emergency Medical Technicians I worked with didn’t stop to take time to style their hair, match their accessories to their attire no, when the pager went off, we got to the shed, got into our ambulance and we responded.

But, if you read the article, one who was unfamiliar with a volunteer EMS service might believe that the members are all under the influence, or looking for a cheap thrill or are just out to make a quick buck. That’s ridiculous!

To me, such an inference is nothing short of an insult to the hundreds of people just like you an me who make the conscious decision to help their fellow man in their time of need. And, let’s be clear here, I’m not just limiting my remarks to the EMS personnel the same goes for the firefighters and rescuers who venture into a smoke and flame filled building to rescue a child or someone’s grandfather who cannot escape the building on their own.

The writer of that special section is highly respected for their work in the field of journalistic endeavors, but I’m still disappointed that the entire article comes off as an example of all that is wrong with the field of Emergency Medical Services. There IS good there as well.

Granted, there are bad apples but find me one profession anywhere where there aren’t people who take advantage of others. Why not start right in Des Moines at the statehouse, for example. There are doctors who have violated rules and regulations. Lawyers, educators, businessmen, farmers, and yes, even journalists, have all done things they shouldn’t have.

But for every one negative story, there are 100 positive examples that also deserve to be recognized but that’s not what generates interest and sells, apparently.

The article talked about state regulations and how hard they were to enforce. That needs to be examined, too. In many cases, recommendations appear to have been designed for well staffed, paid organizations with all of the most current equipment available to them in large, urban areas.

Therein lies part of the problem. Sometimes, regulations seem to be unrealistic in our rural areas. Keep in mind that the powers that sit at the state capital sometimes forget that Iowa actually doesn’t end at Highway 20 and Interstate 35. There is still a little bit of territory beyond those two boundaries that don’t quite have the population base found in central Iowa. But, we contribute greatly to their diets!

In my day, our ambulance service strived to be rolling to a call within five minutes of receiving our page for a call. With volunteer servics relying on responders dropping what they are doing to come to the ambulance, that time frame was pretty good. But if you ask someone in the big city, that’s too slow.

Granted, when you are the one on the end of the phone who has called for help, every minute seems like an eternity. But that’s the case whether the incident is in Des Moines or in Emmetsburg, West Bend, Graettinger, or Ruthven.

I am incredibly thankful that we have people in our midst that will drop everything to answer the call for help. I saw an example of that when firefighters ventured onto the unstable ice of Five Island Lake recently to rescue a family’s dog. I saw the look of satisfaction on the faces of those three firefighters as the dog was embraced by the family on shore.

Some might think it was risky – it was only a dog. But you know something; to that family that dog was just as much a family member as anyone on two feet. More importantly, it reinforced the mindset of the volunteer responder: to answer the call for help no matter whom, no matter when, no matter the situation.

If the big city folks want to take potshots at volunteer services, so be it. But here, where neighbors actually care about their neighbors, we know better.

We understand. We support our volunteers and most importantly, we treasure them and thank them for their sacrifices and service. God Bless them All!

We Know Better

By Staff | Apr 23, 2013

It’s taken me a good two weeks to cool off after reading the special section “the newspaper Iowa depends upon” graced our doorsteps on April 7 about the Emergency Medical Services in Iowa, and I’ve finally come up with a response to the stories. I’m disappointed in the stories and trust me, that’s a very mild statement.

Firstly, for a time back in the early 1990’s, I was a member of one of those volunteer EMS services, and I answered my share of calls at O-dark thirty in the morning. I’d roll into the ambulance shed, complete with bed hair, lucky to have socks on inside my shoes, but ready to answer that call for help. The Emergency Medical Technicians I worked with didn’t stop to take time to style their hair, match their accessories to their attire no, when the pager went off, we got to the shed, got into our ambulance and we responded.

But, if you read the article, one who was unfamiliar with a volunteer EMS service might believe that the members are all under the influence, or looking for a cheap thrill or are just out to make a quick buck. That’s ridiculous!

To me, such an inference is nothing short of an insult to the hundreds of people just like you an me who make the conscious decision to help their fellow man in their time of need. And, let’s be clear here, I’m not just limiting my remarks to the EMS personnel the same goes for the firefighters and rescuers who venture into a smoke and flame filled building to rescue a child or someone’s grandfather who cannot escape the building on their own.

The writer of that special section is highly respected for their work in the field of journalistic endeavors, but I’m still disappointed that the entire article comes off as an example of all that is wrong with the field of Emergency Medical Services. There IS good there as well.

Granted, there are bad apples but find me one profession anywhere where there aren’t people who take advantage of others. Why not start right in Des Moines at the statehouse, for example. There are doctors who have violated rules and regulations. Lawyers, educators, businessmen, farmers, and yes, even journalists, have all done things they shouldn’t have.

But for every one negative story, there are 100 positive examples that also deserve to be recognized but that’s not what generates interest and sells, apparently.

The article talked about state regulations and how hard they were to enforce. That needs to be examined, too. In many cases, recommendations appear to have been designed for well staffed, paid organizations with all of the most current equipment available to them in large, urban areas.

Therein lies part of the problem. Sometimes, regulations seem to be unrealistic in our rural areas. Keep in mind that the powers that sit at the state capital sometimes forget that Iowa actually doesn’t end at Highway 20 and Interstate 35. There is still a little bit of territory beyond those two boundaries that don’t quite have the population base found in central Iowa. But, we contribute greatly to their diets!

In my day, our ambulance service strived to be rolling to a call within five minutes of receiving our page for a call. With volunteer servics relying on responders dropping what they are doing to come to the ambulance, that time frame was pretty good. But if you ask someone in the big city, that’s too slow.

Granted, when you are the one on the end of the phone who has called for help, every minute seems like an eternity. But that’s the case whether the incident is in Des Moines or in Emmetsburg, West Bend, Graettinger, or Ruthven.

I am incredibly thankful that we have people in our midst that will drop everything to answer the call for help. I saw an example of that when firefighters ventured onto the unstable ice of Five Island Lake recently to rescue a family’s dog. I saw the look of satisfaction on the faces of those three firefighters as the dog was embraced by the family on shore.

Some might think it was risky – it was only a dog. But you know something; to that family that dog was just as much a family member as anyone on two feet. More importantly, it reinforced the mindset of the volunteer responder: to answer the call for help no matter whom, no matter when, no matter the situation.

If the big city folks want to take potshots at volunteer services, so be it. But here, where neighbors actually care about their neighbors, we know better.

We understand. We support our volunteers and most importantly, we treasure them and thank them for their sacrifices and service. God Bless them All!