To the Editor:
I am writing this letter in response to the Des Moines Register's article on April 7, 2013 entitled, "EMTs & Emergency Medical Services: How a Broken System Endangers Iowans." In this article, journalist Clark Kauffman accuses Iowa EMS programs of gross misconduct, lack of appropriate training, lack of regulatory oversight, and lack of accountability regarding response times (just to name a few). I concede that there is no such thing as a perfect system; however, this article is inaccurate, misleading, and offensive to the dedicated and highly trained members of our EMS crew here in Palo Alto County. I would like to take a few minutes to set the record straight.
First, the incident regarding sexual misconduct did not occur at Palo Alto County Health System (PACHS) in Emmetsburg, as the article would lead us to believe. The accused EMT lived in Emmetsburg at the time, but the incident occurred at his place of employment in Spencer.
Second, every person employed and/or volunteering at PACHS must undergo a criminal history and background check. Palo Alto County Health System employs 65 people on the EMS staff. We complete over 1,100 ambulance runs each year and serve approximately 4,000 patients in our ER annually. Our average response time from the time of the call to when we have a crew on the scene is between 7 min and 26 seconds to 10 minutes, depending on the month. We do track and report response times, as well as many other statistics, on a monthly basis. I can personally vouch that if a member of our team is not meeting licensure guidelines, or is behaving in a manner that is illegal or disrespectful to our patients, we handle the issue accordingly. I have nothing but the utmost faith and trust in the dedicated members of our service, and I thank them for all that they do.
The path to becoming a certified EMS provider is not easy. It requires an individual to dedicate many hours of personal time and financial resources to classes and hands-on clinical experience before being allowed to test for certification. After certification is achieved, they must complete annual CEUs in order to maintain their certification. Most Iowans do not do this as a means of making money they do it out of their sense of duty towards their neighbors. Unfortunately, instead of taking this opportunity to celebrate the EMS providers of our great state, and to use this article as a means of championing support for increased funding and an improved structure, the Des Moines Register has instead opted to focus on the negative. They chose to focus on the "exception rather than the rule." What a shame.
(signed) Desiree Einsweiler
Palo Alto County Health System