Emergency services moving to business model
Krystal Draeger, Tammy Arndt and Faye Buch are recent graduates from the EMS Leadership Academy.
In the past year, these Manawa Ambulance EMTs attended four levels of leadership classes. The three graduated on Aug. 23.
The EMS Leadership Academy is a 60-hour educational program designed to prepare participants to lead and manage today’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS).
The class was geared toward EMS personnel, teaching how to look at challenges from the perspective of leadership. The EMTs learned the difference between managing and leading and the basic practice of moving from management to leadership.
According to Arndt, EMS services used to be structured like a volunteer club. She said the objective is to move forward.
“What we are being challenged with is moving from this club-like structure to a business model,” she said. “History and tradition, while not forgotten in EMS, needs to transition into an everyday workforce environment. That is what we as the new graduates are bringing back to our rural board and community.”
“With the continued education EMTs are mandated to maintain in this field, we as leaders are looking to educate the community/taxpayer as to what it takes to maintain an ambulance service in our local community on a full-time basis in our current economy,” Arndt said.
One of the statistics that the students learned was that the greatest challenge facing rural EMS is finding enough people to fill the schedules at all times of the day.
“All rural ambulance services are telling stories about this challenge and need to tell a story that truly reflects the value of volunteer labor,” Arndt said.
She said that the biggest subsidizers of rural EMS are not tax dollars, transport reimbursements by insurance or Medicare, or donations. The biggest subsidizers of rural EMS are the hours donated by volunteers.
According to Arndt, the Independent Sector using Bureau of Labor Statistics has calculated the value of volunteer hours in America is $21.79 per hour.
“This means that if volunteers were paid a wage and benefits to provide their services including all the time they needed to be on call, it would cost $21.79 per hour of each person,” Arndt said. “If the ambulance service had to pay for two people to be on call 24 hours a day, 365 days per year, it would cost $381,761 per year for labor costs.”
She noted this is just the basics for the EMTs, and does not include maintenance of the ambulances, supplies or training.
The actual average pay for Manawa EMTs is $6 per on-call hour and $10 per hour for ambulance runs.
“Many of the EMTs are willing to give up weekends and family functions in order to provide this community service when called upon,” Arndt said. “It takes an entire community to keep this service going. With (the community’s) continued support, we will easily keep this service local.”
As a result of the leadership class, Draeger, Arndt and Buch have returned to help set up an EMT class in Manawa, beginning Sept. 10.
They expressed appreciation to the Manawa Ambulance Board and Interim Director Andy Werth for sponsoring them in the leadership class.
“We are looking forward to applying what we have learned and leading our service into the future of EMS,” Arndt said.