Knoxville — When there is a serious medical emergency, seconds matter when it comes to saving lives. Yet with increasing numbers of people living in towns and cities, and with fewer people living on farms and in other rural homes, people who live in the countryside may be farther from a first responder in an emergency than they were decades ago.
“This is a national problem, a problem in all of rural Iowa, and in Marion County,” said Kevin Kincaid, Chief Executive Officer at Knoxville Hospital & Clinics.
Jeff Anderson, Marion County Emergency Management Coordinator, added, “We have great first responders in Marion County. Unfortunately, sometimes we just don’t have enough trained people – particularly in the daytime when many first responders are at work.”
Cost is also an issue. Basic Emergency Medical Technician (EMT-B) training might cost an individual $1,200-1,500. “Remember – most of our first responders in rural areas – 95+ % of them are volunteers and they have to pay for much, if not all of their training,” says Anderson.
To address this problem, Knoxville Hospital & Clinics is initiating the Knoxville Hospital & Clinics Emergency Response Training Initiative (ERTI), in collaboration with the Marion County Emergency Management Office, the Marion County Emergency Response Association, and Mercy College of Health Sciences. The first training session under ERTI begins on Feb 20. With assistance from the hospital, and grant money available through Anderson’s office, costs to individuals have been reduced to approximately $250, which is, according to Anderson, a significant reduction – enough to make it affordable to many more people who want to serve our communities in this important way. The course will be taught locally at the Knoxville Hospital & Clinics by the education staff from Mercy College in Des Moines. Anyone interested in the program should apply online at http://www.mchs.edu/emt.
Anderson says that they have asked local fire chiefs and other officials to help identify likely candidates to participate in the program. “It’s a tough program. We want people with the dedication and commitment to succeed.”
Kincaid and Anderson share that if the initiative is successful, it may be offered annually, and that additional higher level training opportunities may also be offered in the future.
“Our goal is to improve health outcomes for everyone in our service area,” says Kincaid. “Providing quality educational opportunities for emergency responders in an affordable manner will go a long way in helping to achieve that goal. Our relationship with Mercy, and Mercy’s long-term investment in our community by locating a helicopter in Knoxville, shows our collective commitment to providing the very best in rural health care – including emergency response. The Emergency Response Training Initiative is an important next step.”