Examining the challenges rural areas face with EMS

Local communities are suffering due to EMS shortages. County leaders searching for solutions held a meeting to highlight those issues, and bring them to state leaders for resolutions.

Leaders from fire service, law enforcement, and EMS were in attendance.

St. Johnsville’s EMS Operations Chief, Shannon Countryman spoke to the challenges her team face. “It’s very stressful. All of our employees have more than one job, including myself, she said. We’re often working 24 how hour shifts, then we’ll leave and go to another agency for 12 hours or more."

Countryman said there are only two agencies left in Montgomery County and St Johnsville."Changes need to be made yesterday in order for us to continue in this county and provide the level of patient care and better response team," she said.

County Executive Matt Ossenfort said one way to offset that pressure is through priority dispatch."Not every call is equal and not every call requires an ambulance, he said. So that’s something we’re working on at our dispatch center to try to improve and do the best we can with the resources we have."

Countryman said they’ve been working with surrounding counties to come up with solutions. "Unfortunately it’s the patients that ultimately suffer with these problems, so we’re really trying to do the best that we can," she said.

She said she hopes the conversation doesn’t end tonight, and real change can be made.