Small Iowa communities continue facing problems with too few volunteers to run ambulance services and they’re being forced to share services with neighboring towns, which will mean longer response times. The northwest Iowa town of Oyens is closing down its ambulance squad due to a lack of volunteers.
Dan Cronin has been serving as director of the Oyens Ambulance Service and isn’t sure what will become of the rescue unit itself and all the gear. “We’re still hoping for people to step forward,” Cronin says. “We haven’t had that discussion yet on what’s going to happen with all the assets. We may decide just to leave everything in place in case some people do start stepping forward and they’re going to need stuff to work with.”
Oyens is a town of 103 and there are six volunteers on the ambulance staff. At least six more would be needed to cover all the on-call shifts, ’round the clock, seven days a week. Since February 1st, Oyens has been relying on help from Remsen and Le Mars. Bill Rosacker, director of Le Mars Ambulance Services, says with the added territory, the response times will be longer.
Rosacker says it’s becoming a common problem in Iowa. “It’s happening across the state,” Rosacker says. “There are more and more they call them ‘transport agreements’ that are being entered into for a situation like we’re having here in northwest Iowa. We will cover certain times during the day when they cannot provide ambulance services for a certain community.”
Rosacker says he’s concerned as Le Mars is already extending its service to the town of Merrill as well. The decision only impacts the ambulance services in Oyens as the town is retaining its fire department.
(Reporting by Dennis Morrice, KLEM, Le Mars)