As the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold, Iowa's first responders say the state should no longer hold off on declaring Emergency Medical Services an essential service.
That status is something EMS workers in Iowa have sought long before COVID-19. Being declared "essential" would require ambulance service across the state, instead of relying on a patchwork of volunteers, agencies and providers.
Mark McCulloch, deputy chief of EMS for West Des Moines Emergency Medical Services, says he thinks the current crisis will prompt those who have resisted such a move to reconsider.
"The understanding of how important and how critical our services are, I think, is increased," he states.
McCulloch says the lack of guaranteed emergency medical services is especially a problem in rural parts of Iowa, where younger adults are moving away and reducing volunteer ranks.