Changes are coming to ambulance services in Minnehaha County. Up until now, the county required two EMT’s on an ambulance when it responds to a call. South Dakota State law requires only one.
On Tuesday, the Minnehaha County Commission unanimously approved matching the state, and lowering its EMT requirement. It amended an ordinance to MC31-5-18. An area provider disagrees, and is criticizing the decision.
When you’re hurt and it’s an emergency, these ambulances are crucial for your care. That’s why the topic became the subject of a small debate at Tuesday’s meeting. Minnehaha County Emergency Manager Jason Gearman approves of having one EMT and one driver in an ambulance. He says it’ll give smaller areas that rely on volunteers more flexibility.
“As you all know, the volunteers have dropped and we’re trying to keep these ambulances going and not give them any issues in certain situations where maybe only one EMT is on scene,” Gearman said.
Gearman says many county deputies are trained EMT’s and can provide backup. Commissioner Jeff Barth says he’s heard from rural providers, who operate in multiple counties and want consistent requirements.
“They have trouble complying with all the regulations in all the different areas they work in. I think, in talking with them, they thought this would help them,” Barth said.
MedStar owner and CEO Jay Masur is speaking against the change, and worries about how it’ll affect services and safety.
“When you get to a scene and you need help on that scene and you’re the first ambulance there, regardless if the sheriff’s department is there or not, you’re the first ambulance there and you’re the only EMT on scene and you need help, you have none,” Masur said.
Masur says the statewide requirement is different, because it covers smaller areas with fewer resources. However, he argues Minnehaha County has the resources and two major providers that can cover two EMT’s. Masur says he’ll keep two EMT’s on his ambulances regardless of the change.
“I understand you’re going to vote for this regardless of what I have to say, I get that, because that’s the way the game is played,” Masur said.