A statewide shortage of trained medical personnel has left many rural county ambulance services having to delay hospital transfers to ensure they have enough staff for emergencies.
For example, in Norton County in northwest Kansas, the county's 5,400 residents are served by six full-time volunteers and nine volunteers, who respond to all 911 calls and taken patients from one hospital to another.
"Sometimes patients needing to be transferred are left waiting," said Craig Sowards, Norton County EMS director.
In response to the problem, a proposal before the state Legislature would allow drivers without medical training to transport stable patients in rural areas, which sometimes can take hours. Ambulances would still need to have one person with medical training riding in the back, such as an EMT or a nurse, The Kansas News Service reports.
Some state and local EMS officials say having only one trained person on board could be risky, and they worry about lowering standards of care in rural areas.