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Ambulance Coverage Remains A Concern For Lake City As EMS Shortages Limit Crew Availability

The Lake City Council opened dialogue with the Calhoun County Board of Supervisors this week as they work to find a solution to a shortage of ambulance crews for the community. Administrator, Eric Wood, says Lake City has not had in-town emergency medical services for nearly a year during construction at Stewart Memorial Community Hospital (SMCH).

City officials have been working to address the issue for months, but this is the first time it has appeared on the council’s agenda as an official discussion item. According to Wood, EMS staffing shortages are reaching near-crisis level in rural Iowa. He says they have scheduled a workshop with neighboring Pocahontas County to learn how they have handled it.

Prior to this summer, county-run ambulance departments were not considered an essential service, meaning local governments could not collect taxes specifically for them. However, a law signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds in June allows for a board of supervisors to classify EMS as essential and implement a levy not to exceed $0.75 per $1,000 of taxable valuation with voter approval. Wood says this is an option that is being considered.

As it stands, the nearest ambulance crew is stationed nearly 14 miles away in Rockwell City. Wood says he and the council will continue to work with county officials to find a suitable solution.

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